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Bill to ban public funds from abortion providers moves ahead

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Bill to ban public funds from abortion providers moves ahead

Opponents say legislation is swipe at Planned Parenthood

PHOENIX – The state Senate gave preliminary approval Thursday to a bill that would prohibit public money intended for family-planning services from going to organizations that provide abortions.

Opponents called HB 2800 a thinly veiled swipe at Planned Parenthood that would curtail access to health care services such as breast exams and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, particularly for Medicaid recipients.

“All they’re going to do is alienate 70 percent of the population, and that’s not just women but it’s men as well,” said Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson.

Republican supporters, however, said taxpayers shouldn’t have to support organizations that offer abortions.

“If this organization Planned Parenthood would get out of the abortion business then this controversy might go away, but it’s morally and ethically wrong to expect taxpayers in the United States to pay for abortions,” said Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, who signed on as a co-sponsor.

The Senate Committee of the Whole recommended the bill for approval, setting up a vote by the full chamber that would send it back to the House.

It occurred on the same day that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks except in medical emergencies.

Current law already bars the state from using any public funds for abortions except when a woman’s life is in danger.

HB 2800, authored by Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, would prohibit the state as well as local governments from dispensing grants or entering into contracts for family-planning services with organizations offering abortions except when a woman’s life is in danger or in cases of rape and incest. These types of abortions are qualified for federal reimbursement under Title 19 of the Social Security Act.

Lopez said the bill interferes with the separation of church and state.

“These people get elected, and they believe that they can use their elected position to force their religious beliefs on the rest of us,” she said in an interview.

But Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, argued that most taxpayers don’t want their money going toward organizations that provide abortions.

“The bill carries out the historic intention of Congress that family planning be understood as contradistinct from elective abortion,” she said.

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