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Arizona: If at First You Don’t Succeed (at Interfering With Women’s Health Care) Try, Try, and Try Again.

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July 14, 2016

It seems that Arizona is running out of ideas of how to interfere with women’s health, because lawmakers have taken to passing old laws that have already been struck down by the courts. This time, they’re trying to prevent Medicaid patients from obtaining reproductive health care, including pregnancy care, contraceptives, and cancer screenings from their chosen physician.

Arizona already tried to do this in 2012. We sued in federal court, and won. Now that Arizona is trying again to deprive low-income women access to critical health care, we’re back in court.

Arizona’s recent bill, HB 2599, could deny low-income women the right to obtain reproductive health care from their chosen provider by allowing the state to exclude qualified physicians from the Medicaid program simply because they provide abortions.

The only way for these doctors to remain in the Medicaid program is to either stop providing abortion, or to try to comply with the law’s vague and complicated requirement, which applies only to abortion providers. Targeting abortion providers in this way is illegal and unconstitutional.

While the law is just another attempt to bully physicians who provide abortions, those who will really suffer are Arizona’s low-income women. Low-income women already have limited high-quality healthcare options, and they will have even fewer options if the state kicks their providers out of the Medicaid program.

If Dr. Eric Reuss – an obstetrician-gynecologist and a plaintiff in the suit – is kicked out of the program, his pregnant patients who use Medicaid will have to find a new doctor to continue providing prenatal care and to deliver their babies. Some of his other patients could be prevented or delayed in obtaining contraceptives or cancer screenings. Playing politics with the health of low-income women is immoral.

Arizona, like many other states, has repeatedly targeted abortion providers for unfair treatment. It is also one of several states that has tried, and failed, to exclude abortion providers from Medicaid. Every one of these laws has been challenged and every federal court has agreed that they are unlawful.

The U.S. Government has also warned these states that targeting abortion providers in this way is illegal. Arizona didn’t get this loud and clear message the first time around.

This time, we hope they see that no matter how many times you try, try and try again, you just may not succeed.