Arizona House Approves 2 Bills to Restrict Services, Funding of Planned Parenthood

PHOENIX -- The Arizona House on Monday approved two bills that would restrict services and funding of the state's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood Arizona.

One bill approved by the House would apply state requirements for clinics that provide surgical abortions to those that provide only medication abortions.

Medication abortions were not widely used when the abortion clinic law was enacted in 1999 after a Phoenix woman died during a botched surgical abortion, but medication abortions now account for roughly half the abortions in Arizona.

A second bill approved Monday would make donations to Planned Parenthood ineligible for a state income tax credit for contributions to organizations that serve the working poor.

Identical 40-18 votes, mostly along party lines, sent both bills to the Senate. Democrats Catherine Miranda of Phoenix and Anna Tovar joined 38 Republicans in voting for both.

Planned Parenthood Arizona 's president has said applying existing regulations for surgical abortion clinics to satellite facilities that only provide medication abortions would force it to curtail services in Flagstaff, Prescott and Yuma where nurse-practitioners, not doctors, provide services.

Supporters of the clinic bill had emphasized during a committee hearing that it was intended to help protect the health of women. However, during the full House's debate Monday on the bill, supporters also put emphasis on providing disclosures to women who might decide against having an abortion.

Under the bill, abortion providers would have to offer their patients ultrasound images before ending their pregnancies. Providers also would have to offer women seeking an abortion a chance to hear their unborn child's heartbeat if one is audible.

The ultrasound requirement would allow women to fingers and facial features of fetuses, said Rep. Peggy Judd, R-Willcox. "They can have the opportunity to see the humanity of that unborn child."

Planned Parenthood Arizona says it already offers ultrasounds, and legislative critics of the bill's other provisions said they are intended to erect new barriers in front of access to abortion.

Regarding the funding bill, Planned Parenthood Arizona has said its abortion services are self-funded and that any impact on its donated funding would affect only its family planning and medical services.

Republican Rep. Justin Olson of Mesa acknowledged that the tax credit money belongs to donors, not the public, but he said it's "very offensive" that the state would provide tax breaks that could indirectly entice financial support for abortion.

The House last week approved a separate bill that would prohibit abortions sought because of the race or sex of the fetus or the race of a parent.

Noting the various abortion measures proposed this year, Democratic Rep. Matt Heinz of Tucson implored supporters of the measures to refrain from offering more. "Perhaps next year we could just ban it outright and let the courts decide," he said.

The U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973 legalized abortion.