Planned Parenthood sued the state of Arizona over a law which strips state Medicaid funding for its health clinics, since Planned Parenthood performs abortion services. HB2800, recently signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, would go into effect August 2nd. Rosie Villegas, clinic manager for the Phoenix Planned Parenthood, says the law would limit basic health care access for many Latina low-income women, especially those in rural parts of Arizona with few medical facilities.
“We are the sole source of basic health care for many Latinas, not just women’s health services,” says Villegas. Approximately one out of every four patients in Arizona’s 14 Planned Parenthood clinics are Hispanic. State officials have said there are alternative clinics available for women on Arizona’s Medicaid program, AHCCS. But Villegas says in rural areas, there are few providers, and even fewer who take Medicaid and are also bilingual.
“Over ninety percent of the medical care we provide is well-woman exams, pap smears and screenings,” she says. “It is an undue burden on these patients to have to find health care elsewhere.”
Planned Parenthood President and CEO Bryan Howard explained recently why they sued Arizona. “The men and women of this state have the right to see the health care provider they deem best for them – we are confident that the federal court will agree and grant an injunction to prevent this harmful law from going into effect.”
But Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List, sees it differently. “Arizona taxpayers have spoken through their elected representatives – they do not want their tax dollars going to abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood.” Planned Parenthood says abortion services constitute only 3 percent of their procedures on a national level. However, Arizona’s Republican-led legislature is not the only one who has voted to bar state funding due to opposition to abortion. Planned Parenthood has filed lawsuits in six states. In five of them – Texas, North Carolina, Indiana, Kansas and Tennessee – the judges have sided with Planned Parenthood and issued injunctions against these laws, saying they do block women’s access to preventive healthcare.