(Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Files)
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take a case involving an Arizona law that sought to deny Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood because the organization performs abortions. The court left in place a lower court decision that overturned the law.
Proponents of the law argued that taxpayer funds should not go to help an abortion provider. Even though Medicaid does not reimburse for abortions, the payments free up resources to help the organization promote and perform abortions, they claimed.
The appellate court that reviewed the case reasoned that Arizona did not have the authority to decide which providers were eligible for Medicaid reimbursements. Federal law allows patients to see any "qualified provider," the court ruled.
Steven H. Aden, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, argued that Arizona should be able to decide for its own citizens which providers are considered qualified.
"Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the work of abortionists," he said. "Arizona should be free to enforce its public interest against the taxpayer funding of abortion and in favor of the best health care for women, which is what this law sought to do. We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not decide to weigh in on that principle. Arizonans deserve the best policies and laws possible to protect both their money and their health."
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards praised the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case, arguing that denying government funds to her organization is "dangerous and unconstitutional."
"Over and over again, courts have clearly said that states can't block people from getting preventive health care at Planned Parenthood. All women, no matter where they live, should be able to get quality, affordable health care from the provider they know and trust," she said.
Last year, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case in which a similar law was overturned in Indiana.