Court Blocks Implementation of Arizona Law that Withholds Critical Resources for Women’s Health
State Law Withholds Resources from Organizations that Provide Abortion Referrals or Counseling
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PHOENIX – A federal court today has blocked the implementation of an Arizona law that would exclude any nonprofit organization that provides abortion referrals or counseling from receiving donations through the state’s Working Poor Tax Credit Program.
The law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona and the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence (AzCADV).
“We are pleased the court blocked this dangerous and unconstitutional law from going into effect,” Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Our laws do not allow the state to prevent a woman in crisis from receiving open and honest information about abortion, just because the state disagrees with her choice.”
The Working Poor Tax Credit Program allows taxpayers to claim a credit on their state tax returns if they make a donation to organizations that serve low-income Arizona residents. However, the law prohibits an otherwise qualified organization from participating in the program, if the organization provides referrals for abortion. The law is so broad that it could prevent groups from even discussing abortion or other reproductive health services with women in crisis.
“This past year has seen a drastic increase in government attempts to interfere in a woman’s personal medical decisions but time and again these laws have been stopped by the courts,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Surely the state has better things to do than punish organizations for providing survivors of domestic violence with unbiased information about abortion. Survivors of domestic and sexual violence deserve to have access to a full range of information and options when escaping an abusive situation.”
In its brief seeking the injunction, the ACLU argued that organizations that serve survivors of partner violence and sexual assault in particular would be hurt by this law. Many victims of domestic violence have experienced a range of sexually abusive behaviors, including rape, which can lead to unwanted pregnancy. The ACLU also contended it is essential that a woman overcoming a violent relationship be able to make her own health care decisions.
“Our members shouldn’t feel torn between presenting a pregnant woman with information about her options and sacrificing much-needed donations,” said Elizabeth Ditlevson, acting executive director of AzCADV. “The needs of the woman and her family should come first. Politics should have nothing to do with it.”
More information on this case can be found at:
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