Another Arizona Antiabortion Law Struck

A federal appeals court blocked an Arizona antiabortion law that blocked Planned Parenthood and other clinics from providing any family services as long as they also provide abortions.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction that would have cut off family planning services, cancer screening and other services to low income Medicaid patients because of the facilities also provided privately funded abortion services.

Arizona’s law violates the requirement that Medicaid patients be able to get a health provider of their choice “solely on the basis that those providers separately perform privately funded, legal abortions,” wrote Judge Marsha Berzon.

The state law, known as House Bill 2800, illegally interferes with Medicaid beneficiaries right to select a qualified medical provider of their own choosing.

The law bars patients getting covered family planning services if providers perform abortions in cases other than medical necessity, rape or incest.

But the law goes beyond abortion to deny services provided for gynecological exams and cancer screenings until the provider agrees to stop privately funded abortions.

The appeals court joined two other circuits, the 6th and 7th Circuits, that have struck down similar laws violating Medicaid Act’s free-choice-of-provider requirement.

Arizona passed House Bill 2800 in 2012.  Congress has already held that federal money may not be used to pay for abortions, except to save the life of the mother, rape or incest.  Arizona hoped to block privately funded, legal abortions provided at clinics used by Medicaid patients.

Several unnamed individuals, along with Planned Parenthood of Arizona, a nonprofit with a network of 13 clinics in the state, sued.

It treats about 3,000 patients a year and receives about $350,000 in payments, according to the court.

The appeals court found the state law violated the free-choice-of-provider provisions of the Medicaid Act, which gives a private right of action to individuals if the right is violated.

Joining Berzon in the opinion were Judges Jay Bybee and Consuelo Marshall, visiting from the District Court in Los Angeles.

Case:  Planned Parenthood Arizona Inc., v. Betlach, No. 13-15506


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