A federal judge blocked Arizona on Friday from applying a new law that bars Planned Parenthood clinics from receiving money through the state for providing medical care because the women's health organization also performs abortions.
U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake issued a temporary injunction after Planned Parenthood sued over the law, which would have cut off Medicaid funding for family planning and health services delivered by organizations offering abortions. Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that provides health care coverage for low-income people.
The law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in May, is part of a national campaign against Planned Parenthood orchestrated by conservative Republican lawmakers who oppose abortion.
Planned Parenthood had argued in its lawsuit that it was wrong for the state to tell Arizonans who they can and cannot see for their health care, and the judge said the organization was likely to succeed on the merits of its case.
Arizona Solicitor General David Cole said the judge's ruling "did not come as a shock."
"It's not the result we would have hoped, but it's not a ruling on the merits," Cole told Reuters, noting that a hearing on the issues in the case would be held in early December.
Planned Parenthood officials in Arizona did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The organization says abortions account for only 3 percent of its services, which include cancer screening and birth control.
In the past two years, conservative Republicans in more than a dozen states have taken steps to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, and the organization has filed lawsuits in at least six of them, including Arizona.
Arizona does not provide tax dollars for abortion, but backers said the law was needed to make sure that no indirect money was funneled to organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide abortion and other health services.
But officials at Planned Parenthood Arizona, the state's largest abortion provider, said the law meant that thousands of women in the state may now go without life-saving cancer screenings, birth control and basic health care.
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