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Ariz. Bars Funding For Groups Providing Abortions

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation late Friday that blocks state funds — in most cases — from reaching groups that provide abortions. As The Arizona Republic reports:

"The law aims to prevent contracts with or grants to any group that perform abortions that do not meet the federal requirements under Title 19 of the Social Security Act, which reimburses in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment. It also prioritizes how public money for family planning will be distributed — such as to state-owned health-care centers and rural hospitals."

In a statement in April, Planned Parenthood Arizona said the law "could reduce access to a wide range of preventive health care for thousands of Arizonans."

The governor signed the legislation during an event for the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List. In her press release, she adds:

"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."

As The Arizona Daily Star reports, state law already forbids public funding for abortions.

Planned Parenthood officials told The Arizona Republic what they thought legislation would mean for them:

"Planned Parenthood officials said the bill essentially would no longer allow them or other groups that also provide abortions to seek reimbursement from the state for non-abortion services provided to residents enrolled in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's Medicaid program."

But a spokeswoman for the Medicaid program told The Arizona Republic last month that AHCCCS didn't think it would be affected "because the program sends public dollars to private providers, who can choose which partners to work with.

The agency is "still analyzing the bill's potential effects," the paper reports.

The Whole Woman's Health Funding Priority Act (HB 2800) also prioritizes how money is distributed to health care providers. The Star explains:

"HB 2800 establishes an order for dividing up public funds for family planning. Top priority goes to government-run health-care facilities, followed by hospitals, rural health clinics and private doctors."

The Star notes that "a legal challenge is likely." Six other states have similar laws, officials told Reuters. Of those, Indiana, Kansas and North Carolina are facing legal challenges.

Brewer signed the legislation on Friday, the same day a federal appeals court ruled Texas could not ban Planned Parenthood from receiving state funds.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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