The circuit court ruling, handed down last August, struck down an Arizona law that prohibited public funds from going to Planned Parenthood or other agencies that perform abortions.
Both Arizona and federal law ban the use of public funds for abortions that are not medically necessary to protect the life or health of the mother. But the state's Whole Women's Healthcare Funding Prioritization Act required that the funds be spent at healthcare facilities where comprehensive healthcare for women does not include abortion. Justin Olson, the Mesa Republican who sponsored the 2012 legislation, argued that money that goes to Planned Parenthood for other services frees up other money to the fund the agency's abortion procedures.
Medicaid, a healthcare program for the poor, is funded primarily by federal dollars. Arizona, as part of its participation in the program, provides family planning services for needy women. The federal government provides funding for 90 percent with the state paying the remaining 10 percent, the Arizona Sun reported.
The 9th Circuit Court ruled the state law violates a federal statute requiring that physicians whom states have qualified for Medicaid, based on a state legislature's rational policy decisions, may not be excluded from funding. Arizona's petition to the Supreme Court argued the circuit court misinterpreted the reference to "qualified" in the "choice criterion" provision of the law to mean that states may not exclude any physicians who simply have "professional competence."
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