by Jim Nintzel
The U.S. Supreme Court today announced it would not hear arguments regarding an Arizona law that sought to strip funding from Planned Parenthood for health-care programs unrelated to abortion services. As the Weekly explained when the law was struck down in federal court in February 2013:
The 2012 law sought to prevent women on the state's AHCCCS program or other state-assisted programs from using Planned Parenthood's clinics for any of their health-care needs—birth control, cancer screenings, STD treatment and the like.
The case largely rested on whether Planned Parenthood was "qualified" to provide the services. Federal law says that the state can't discriminate against qualified providers when deciding how to spend federal Medicaid funds. The new state law, passed during the 2012 session, declared that any organization that provided abortion services was not considered a "qualifed" provider.
Planned Parenthood sued, arguing that the state couldn't determine qualifications on that basis. It's a case that abortion opponents are making in other states. So far, they're losing in federal court.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne appealed, despite the precedents that suggested that the law could not stand up to constitutional review. The state lost again at the U.S. Circuit Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it would not hear Arizona's final appeal of the law.
Planned Parenthood Arizona President and CEO Bryan Howard called the Supreme Court's decision "a victory for Arizona women and their families."
“The men and women of this state have the right to see the health care provider they deem is best for them," Howard said in a prepared statement. "Thousands of low-income women rely on Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, and other basic health care. Politics should never interfere with a woman’s access to vital services."