On Friday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, the Queen of misogyny herself, signed the Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act (HB 2800) into law. This law states that:
“THIS STATE OR ANY POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE MAY NOT ENTER INTO A CONTRACT WITH OR MAKE A GRANT TO ANY PERSON THAT PERFORMS NONFEDERALLY QUALIFIED ABORTIONS OR MAINTAINS OR OPERATES A FACILITY WHERE NONFEDERALLY QUALIFIED ABORTIONS ARE PERFORMED FOR THE PROVISION OF FAMILY PLANNING SERVICES.” (I’m sorry, they use all caps, and I like to cut and paste for accuracy because there’s lots of legal mumbo jumbo).
Since a federally qualified abortion is one where the life of the mother is in danger or in cases of rape and incest, HB 2800 means is that no family planning money can go to a provider or a facility that does elective abortions or medically necessary abortions (medically necessary could mean worsening kidney disease in the 1rst trimester, for example). As Planned Parenthood is the biggest provider of abortion services, this will affect them primarily; however, many OB/GYNs who do office based abortions and teaching programs may also be restricted from Medicaid reimbursement for family planning services. Brewer released a statement saying, ”By signing this measure into law I stand with the majority of Americans who oppose the use of taxpayer funds for abortion.”
But here’s the irony (and the proof that HB 2800 is a backdoor offensive against Roe v. Wade). Arizona currently funds abortions with state taxpayer dollars (albeit under a court order). In 2009 the Supreme Court of Arizona ruled that Arizona Medicaid had to pay for medically necessary abortions, not just abortion to save the life of the mother or rape/incest (i.e. Arizona Medicaid is more inclusive than the federal qualifications). In a well-written judgement the Supreme Court of Arizona recognized that many medical conditions could be exacerbated by pregnancy and that women who rely on Medicaid should not be disadvantaged in their medical care because they are pregnant. Again, to be clear, State Medicaid in Arizona does not pay for elective abortions, but pays for an abortion that a doctor recommends as medically necessary.
Since Arizona taxpayers already fund abortion, it is clear that HB 2800 is nothing more than an attempt to reduce the number of abortion providers in the state. Who will suffer? Women on Medicaid. Make no mistake about it, there are fewer and fewer providers accepting Medicaid. The reason is simple: reimbursement by Medicaid is often less than the cost of care. Planned Parenthood can afford to accept Medicaid because they raise funds to help provide services. So, the argument that Planned Parenthood (or any other provider who accepts Medicaid) is financially supporting abortion by Medicaid funded Pap smears that they do at a loss is ludicrous. It demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge of the realities of health care or it’s a damn the
torpedos facts, this is a war on women approach.
By excluding abortion providers from the state family planning dollars it’s possible that there could be fewer Planned Parenthood clinics. Even though abortion is only 3% of the services provided by Planned Parenthood, they are the biggest abortion provider in the state. It won’t affect private practices, they’ll either quietly keep doing abortions and drop Medicaid or stop do abortions. Either way, women suffer.
Brewer must know it will be challenged, because similar laws are currently groaning their way through the legal systems in three states. This case won’t play out in federal court, because this is state funding, not misappropriation of federal funds (as in Texas). Considering the Supreme Court of Arizona believes Medicaid funds should support medically necessary abortion (and they took the medical facts as presented by caregivers very seriously in their judgement), it will be interesting to hear if they buy the false logic of Brewer and her cronies, that somehow doing a Pap smear below cost supports abortion or if they go with, you know, facts.
If you try to follow Brewer’s “reasoning” (I know it’s hard, it makes my head hurt) Arizona taxpayers don’t want to pay for abortion, but have no qualms paying the legal costs fighting about it. But Brewer isn’t interested in reality, medical care, women’s health, or tax dollars for that matter, she’s just chipping away at Roe v. Wade anyway she can. And if the more than 800,000 women in her state who are on Medicaid can’t find a provider and taxpayers fork out millions of dollars in legal fees, well, that’s just the price of war.
Number of women on Medicaid in Arizona