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Updated Jun 11, 2013 - 5:04 pm

House delays debate on abortion clinic inspections

PHOENIX — An Arizona House debate on a measure banning public dollars from
indirectly supporting abortion providers and allowing routine surprise
inspections of abortion clinics has been delayed because there weren’t enough
votes for it to pass.

House speaker Andy Tobin said Tuesday supporters were still trying to round up
the votes for Senate Bill 1069 to pass so it was pulled from the calendar. It’s
not clear when it could be considered because the House is taking Wednesday off
and preparing for a battle on Medicaid expansion and the budget on Thursday.

The bill also would bar women on state Medicaid from getting an abortion at
Planned Parenthood Arizona if they previously received planning or care from the
group’s clinics. Its language was crafted at the behest of a powerful
anti-abortion group, the Center for Arizona Policy. It passed a House committee
on a party-line vote Monday with majority Republicans supporting the measure.

A proposed Democratic amendment offered Tuesday would gut the bill and simply
allow a study of the issue until next year.

Amendment sponsor Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley, said he was trying to
protect women by offering the amendment. He noted that a law that contains some
of the same provisions blocking Medicaid funding has been blocked by the court
but is still being litigated.

“My goal was to do the right thing for the women of this state that need
health care,” Meyer said. “I wouldn’t have put it on if I didn’t think I had a
chance.”

Without Meyer’s amendment the bill didn’t have the votes to pass, said Rep.
Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix, who opposes abortion.

The provision allowing snap inspections of abortion clinics would put Arizona
in line with some other states, including Utah, that allow them, according to
Elizabeth Nash from the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights and
tracks state laws.

Arizona requires inspections during licensing and relicensing and the
Department of Health Services can get a warrant for an unscheduled inspection
for cause, a system many states use.

Supporters say the bill is needed to ensure Medicaid family planning money
isn’t used to subsidize abortions. Planned Parenthood Arizona said the proposed
law would be illegal and is promising a legal challenge.

Federal and state law already prohibits public financing of abortions.

Democrats on the House Appropriations committee said the measure would set up
more costly litigation that the state is likely to lose.

SB1069 was amended last week to add the language involving abortion providers
such as Planned Parenthood.

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