The United States Supreme Court announced today that it will not review a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals protecting the right of Arizona Medicaid recipients to visit healthcare providers who also perform abortions. The law would have prevented doctors and clinics that perform abortions from being Medicaid-eligible providers.
Planned Parenthood sued to prevent Arizona House Bill 2800 from taking effect. According to reports, the law would have stopped Medicaid reimbursements to more than 80 Arizona hospitals and clinics that provide a wide range of women’s healthcare services, including birth control, cancer screenings, and STD treatment, and would have impacted thousands of low-income women in the state.
“The men and women of this state have the right to see the health care provider they deem is best for them,” said Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. “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.”
The bill was passed by the Arizona legislature and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in 2012, but Planned Parenthood challenged it before it could be enforced. The Ninth Circuit ruled in August 2013 that the bill violates the federal Medicaid Act requirement that gives patients the freedom to choose their healthcare providers. The state of Arizona then tried to appeal to the Supreme Court without success.
According to Planned Parenthood Action Fund, “since 2011, eight federal courts — six federal district courts and two courts of appeals — have ruled that states may not disqualify Planned Parenthood from providing preventive health services. The Supreme Court has now twice declined to review these decisions.” The Supreme Court also recently declined to review another Arizona anti-abortion bill that would have banned abortion 20 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period.
Media Resources: US Supreme Court 2/24/14; Planned Parenthood Action Fund 2/24/14; Feminist Newswire 8/23/13, 1/13/14; Think Progress 11/22/13