Tuesday, 08 May 2012

Arizona Bans State Funds for Planned Parenthood

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Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (pictured, at the Phoenix Children's Hospital)  enacted another law for life May 4 when she signed a bill that will prevent taxpayer funding from paying for abortions, essentially putting Planned Parenthood out of the abortion business in the state. Expect the abortion giant to fight back, however. In states where such legislation has been passed, Planned Parenthood has sued to restore its windfall, and has seen some initial success as, for instance, when a federal court recently blocked the funding ban inTexas as a Planned Parenthood lawsuit against the measure goes forward.

As for the Arizona measure, the state’s Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act (H.B. 2800) will cut off abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood from funding designated for family Planning. “The bill is based on model legislation developed by the Susan B. Anthony List and the Alliance Defense Fund, and prioritizes family planning funds away from abortion-centered businesses like Planned Parenthood to entities that provide women with comprehensive health care,” reported LifeNews.com. “The measure prohibits the state or any local government from using public money to contract with an organization that includes abortions.”

Gov. Brewer called the new measure a “common-sense law that tightens existing state regulations and closes loopholes in order to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund abortions, whether directly or indirectly. By signing this measure into law, I stand with the majority of Americans who oppose the use of taxpayer funds for abortion.”

The governor chose a state rally sponsored by the pro-life group the Susan B. Anthony List (SBAL) as the venue for publicly signing the bill. “Abortion-centered businesses like Planned Parenthood do not need or deserve taxpayer dollars,” said former U.S. Representative Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), who serves as vice president of Government Affairs for SBA List. “We thank Governor Brewer for quickly signing this bill into law. Governor Brewer has been a consistent and bold advocate for Life and we look forward to continued partnership with her.”

As expected, Planned Parenthood loudly voiced its displeasure over the change in its fortunes. “What we are seeing is an assault on women making their own decisions about health care whether it’s abortion or health care,” Arizona Planned Parenthood CEO Bryan Howard complained of the new measure. “It makes it harder for women to access birth control, hard for women to access cancer screening and abortion care,” said Howard. He insisted that the lost revenue for Planned Parenthood will hurt thousands of Arizona women living below the poverty level.

But Cathy Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy explained that cutting funding to the abortion giant means that moneys will now be available for family planning groups that don’t sell abortions. “The grants will be made to community health centers,” Herrod said of the former Planned Parenthood funding. “There are many providers out there providing these services able to pick up the slack.”

A name out of Arizona’s — and the nation’s — past came back in protest of the law protecting the state’s women and its children. Barry Goldwater’s daughter, Joanne, decried the funding loss to Planned Parenthood, recalling that it was her mother who launched Planned Parenthood in Arizona in 1937. “I have served on its board and am currently an advocate, as are my daughters,” the younger Goldwater boasted. “This is a very vital resource for women.” She said that her father “would be extremely disappointed and very sad to see his beloved Arizona heading in the wrong, religious, right-wing direction.”

Nonetheless, while Planned Parenthood may passively provide other procedures to women, its signature service — and largest source of revenue (besides government funding) — is medically and chemically terminating the lives of pre-born babies. That fact motivated eight states to successfully defund Planned Parenthood of more than $61.7 million in 2011. Other states, including Arizona, have followed suit this year.

But it hasn’t come without a legal fight from the abortion provider, which, in addition to President Obama, has plenty of friends in high places like Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services, and various courts right up the line.

Currently Planned Parenthood funding bans in Indiana,Kansas, and North Carolina all face legal challenges. A similar ban in Wisconsin, signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker, has become a key campaign issue in the recall election against him, as front-running Democratic opponent Tom Barrett promises to overturn the measure if he unseats the pro-life Walker.

Most recently, on May 4the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a Texas’ measure defunding the abortion giant, ordering the state to continue using taxpayer dollars to subsidize Planned Parenthood as a lawsuit challenging the funding ban continues.

The SBAL’s Marilyn Musgrave questioned Planned Parenthood’s motive in seeking to maintain government funding when it already has more than $1 billion in assets. “You have to wonder about the wisdom of this standoff between Planned Parenthood and the American taxpayer,” she said.

In addition to Planned Parenthood’s Texas lawsuit, noted Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink, “the Obama administration pulled $30 million in annual federal funding to theTexas program over the new law. The current funding covers the program through November. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has vowed to find a way to continue the women’s health program without the federal funds. But it appears state officials are willing to end the program if they are required to make payments to abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood.”

Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Gov. Perry, said in April that the state of Texas “is under no obligation to provide taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, which accounts for less than two percent of the more than 2,500 Women’s Health Program providers statewide.Texas law has been very clear from Day One of this program that abortion providers and their affiliates, like Planned Parenthood, are not qualified providers.”

Elizabeth Graham, director of Texas Right to Life, said that lawsuits like the one Planned Parenthood has filed against the state ofTexas shows that officials of the abortion giant “are not the champions of women’s health they say they are. They are clearly willing to throw women’s health under the bus to maintain their government funding and further their abortion agenda.” She added: “As far as Planned Parenthood is concerned, if they can’t have the money, then nobody can.”

Planned Parenthood’s national director Cecile Richards, whose late mother was governor of Texas, agreed with Graham’s assessment, declaring that she would “not let politics interfere” with her group’s pro-abortion agenda.

The SBAL’s Marjorie Dannenfelser, however, expects voters in Texas, Arizona, and elsewhere, to have a major say in the matter. “At the voting booth,” she predicted, “voters will reward elected officials who protect them from having to pay for abortions.”

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