By David Schwartz
PHOENIX, April 24 (Reuters) - Arizona lawmakers on Tuesday
approved a controversial bill to block abortion providers from
receiving federal money through the state, the latest push by a
Republican-led state legislature to limit the activities of
groups like Planned Parenthood.
The Arizona Senate voted by 18-8 to pass legislation that
would cut off any funding for family planning and health
services delivered by Planned Parenthood and any other such
Already approved by the state House of Representatives, the
bill now goes to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican.
Brewer has five days to either sign or veto the bill, but has
not indicated how she will act.
The move is the latest in an on-going battle waged by
conservatives against Planned Parenthood that has been playing
out in states across the country and in Washington.
Should Brewer sign the measure, Arizona would join six other
states with similar laws, officials said. Three of those states
- Indiana, Kansas and North Carolina - are embroiled in legal
The state does not provide tax dollars for abortion, but
backers said the legislation is needed to make sure that no
indirect monies flow to these organizations. There were no
immediate estimates on how much money is involved.
"We need this because we want to make sure that no tax
dollars are financing abortions," state Representative Justin
Olson, a Republican, told Reuters. "It's something
that taxpayers find abhorrent, and they should not be compelled
to pay for it."
Olson said the more money the state funnels for these other
services, the more money can be spent on abortions.
But officials at Planned Parenthood Arizona, the state's
largest abortion provider, said the bill puts in jeopardy the
thousands of people who come to its facilities for services.
The bill "attempts to prohibit Planned Parenthood from
providing family planning services including life-saving cancer
screenings, birth control and basic health care," said Michelle
Steinberg, the group's public policy director.
"There are 4,000 Arizona women and men who currently come to
Planned Parenthood Arizona who could lose access to basic
preventive care," she added.
Steinberg said that the measure is unconstitutional and
should be struck down in court.
(Editing by Tim Gaynor and Cynthia Osterman)
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