Arizona Cuts Off State Funding of Abortion

     PHOENIX (CN) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed two bills into law Tuesday, one to repeal controversial abortion laws and another that allows the state to cut off Medicaid funding to abortion providers.
     The Arizona Legislature voted earlier this month to repeal Senate Bill 1324, which required abortion clinics to follow protocols from 2015 for administering medication abortions.
     Ducey signed SB 1324 into law on March 31, a day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued new, relaxed guidelines.
     The updated protocols allow women to take the second of two abortion medications at home instead of at a doctor’s office. It also gives women longer to take the drug — up to 10 weeks into the pregnancy.
     Ducey’s signing comes as no surprise, as he stated when signing the bill that “some changes may need to be made in a later bill, and I stand ready to consider those changes when they reach my desk.”
     He also signed into law a bill repealing a 2015 law that required medical professionals to tell women it may be possible to reverse the effects of a medication abortion within 24 hours of taking the first dosage.
     Planned Parenthood sued Arizona over that law — Senate Bill 1318 — in June, claiming it violated the First Amendment rights of doctors and amounted to junk science.
     “(T)he act compels plaintiffs, against their medical judgment and in violation of medical ethics, to convey to their patients a state-mandated message that is not medically or scientifically supported and that is antithetical to the purpose of informed consent,” the lawsuit claimed.
     A federal judge blocked the law months later.
     “There is a pattern taking hold in Arizona of politicians forgoing the law in order to advance a particular ideology,” Will Gaona, policy director of the ACLU of Arizona, said in a statement. “All women deserve high-quality medical care, free of interference from politicians playing doctor. When politicians threaten to obstruct access to high-quality care it is as immoral as it is unconstitutional.”
     Ducey, a Catholic Republican, also signed into law Tuesday a bill that denies Medicaid funding for any medical provider that “failed to segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions, including the use of taxpayer dollars for any overhead expenses attributable to abortions.”
     House Bill 2599 also allows the director of the state’s Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System to cut off funding if a provider is found to submit a claim for a procedure performed in association with an abortion “in violation of federal or state law.”
     In 2012, Arizona passed House Bill 2800, a measure that sought to prevent AHCCCS recipients from receiving family planning, gynecological exams, and cancer screenings from providers that also perform abortions.
     Planned Parenthood filed suit over the law, and the Ninth Circuit found in 2013 that it violated the federal Medicaid Act.
     “The Arizona law violates this requirement by precluding Medicaid patients from using medical providers concededly qualified to perform family planning services to patients in Arizona generally, solely on the basis that those providers separately perform privately funded, legal abortions,” Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon wrote.

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