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State Senate approves ban on using public funds to promote abortions

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State Senate approves ban on using public funds to promote abortions

The state Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would ban the use of public funding or tax credits to support any group that provides, promotes, pays for or gives referrals for abortions.

HB 2384, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, would also ban public universities and community colleges from using state funding or tuition dollars to train students to perform abortions.

The Senate voted 21-7 along party lines to give final approval to the bill, which now goes to the House for transmittal to the governor.

Lesko and Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, the author of a twin bill in the Senate, said the measure is intended to close a loophole that allows taxpayer dollars to fund abortions through a Working Poor Tax Credit despite a state ban on using public money for the procedure. The credit is an individual income tax credit that Arizonans can contribute to groups that provide assistance to the working poor.

Charitable organizations that receive cash donations under this tax credit would have to provide the Department of Revenue a statement saying they don't provide, finance or give referrals for abortions.

Barto said another loophole allows student fees to pay for abortion training in medical schools.

"Arizona law is supposed to protect taxpayers from being forced to pay for the performance of abortions," she said.

Charitable organizations that want to qualify for the tax credit for non-abortion work can do so by separating out their services, Barto said.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said the bill goes too far by removing tax credit opportunities for organizations that provide referrals for abortions but don't actually perform them. In some cases the organizations provide many health-related or other services beyond abortion, she said.

"Taking away tax credit opportunities for organizations in which employees who are working for a nonprofit organization [and] fulfilling their ethical duty to their profession by simply providing a referral to someone else is unfairly targeting these organizations," Sinema said.

Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, said the Legislature must work to protect all life and told a story about seeing an ultrasound photo for a new grandchild-on-the-way this week.

"If you look at what has happened to our country in the last 40 years and the violence that takes place in this country … those statistics all slowly start rising and go up right along when we started allowing abortions and the killing of babies," she said. "Maybe child abuse would stop if this country went back to saying that life, no matter how young it is, should be protected and respected,"

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, and Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said abortion should be made illegal.

"I believe abortion should be outlawed and that some day here in the great state of Arizona we'll actually recognize life," Gould said. "I want Arizona to be the state that sends that to the Supreme Court."

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