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AZ Abortion Providers Fight New Law in Federal Court

A group of doctors and clinics is in court, challenging a new Arizona law that could strip abortion providers of Medicaid funds. (kingwu/iStockphoto)
A group of doctors and clinics is in court, challenging a new Arizona law that could strip abortion providers of Medicaid funds. (kingwu/iStockphoto)
August 1, 2016

PHOENIX — Abortion providers in Arizona are facing a deadline this week to block a law requiring them to account separately for every dollar spent on abortions or be stripped of Medicaid funding.

Doctors and clinics are fighting the law in court, calling it yet another attempt by the Arizona Legislature to block them from receiving funds from AHCCCS, the state's Medicaid program. They said the law is so complex, it virtually guarantees providers won't be able to comply.

"There is absolutely no way that I can say, 'OK, this money came in because I saw an AHCCCS patient, and then, this money came in because I did an abortion;’ and I have to keep them separately as I pay all of my bills and pay my staff, etcetera. It's just not possible,” said Doctor DeShawn Taylor at the Desert Star Family Planning Clinic in Phoenix. DeShawn is among the doctors, clinics and patients involved in the federal lawsuit to block implementation of House Bill 2599.

The suit was filed by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of two doctors, five patients and Planned Parenthood of Arizona. Legislative backers of the measure say it is meant to assure that abortion providers can prove they're following the law. However, an almost-identical law passed by the legislature in 2012 was overturned by the courts.

Taylor said the new law would force her to hire extra staff, and would increase her costs. She said losing AHCCCS funds would mean turning away many low-income patients who depend on her for services like pregnancy care, contraceptives and cancer screenings.

"I do believe that the aim of the state was to intimidate or punish doctors like me from providing abortion care services,” Taylor said; "bullying us at the expense of women who would want to come to me for their care. "

The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the state to block the law, though a hearing date had not yet been set. Without a move from the court, the law will go into effect on August 6.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ