Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Arizona Case on Abortion Funding

By:  Warren Mass
Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Arizona Case on Abortion Funding

The U.S. Supreme Court on February 24 declined to hear an appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that struck down an Arizona state law that would have disqualified abortion providers from receiving government funding through Medicaid.

The petitioners, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System Director Tom Betlach and Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, had asked the High Court to review a ruling made by Judge Neil Wake of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona that granted a permanent injunction against the Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act of Arizona (HB 2800) signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer last May. (For text of petition, click here.)

“This is 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,” said Brewer after signing HB 2800. “By signing this measure into law, I stand with the majority of Americans who oppose the use of taxpayer funds for abortion.”

After Wake struck down the law, the state of Arizona appealed his ruling to the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals, which upheld Wakes's decision. It was then that the Arizona officials appealed to the Supreme Court. 

In their appeal, the petitioners made a strong states’ rights argument, asking the High Court to consider

Whether the Ninth Circuit’s misplaced definition of “qualified” under 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(23) engenders a Spending Clause violation under Pennhurst and strips Arizona of powers reserved to it under the Tenth Amendment; namely, the power to regulate health care in furtherance of state law and policy by disqualifying from Medicaid participation those providers who perform nonfederally qualified abortions.

The petitioners’ reference to Pennhurst pertains to Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman, a 1981 case that decided, stated the petitioners, that

Click here to read the entire article.

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