Legislature moves to defund Planned Parenthood

PHOENIX – Republican legislative leaders are using a provision buried in the state budget in their latest attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.

The measure requires the state Department of Health Services to apply to the federal government for Title 10 dollars. Those are family planning funds that now are given directly by the feds to health care agencies.

As crafted, it requires health officials to argue that the state “is best suited to receive and distribute” these dollars to eligible agencies.

But there’s something else in the measure: It says if the health department does get all the money, it cannot redistribute any to any family planning agency that also does abortions, even if none of those family planning dollars actually are used to terminate pregnancies.

The move drew a sharp reaction from Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona.

“There is one and only one reason that this is in the budget,” he said. “And it’s for Gov. (Doug) Ducey to continue to double-down on his determination to expunge Planned Parenthood from the landscape.”

Gubernatorial press aide Daniel Scarpinato said the defunding idea did not originate with his boss. But he said Ducey supports the entire package which was negotiated with the Republican-controlled legislature.

Howard said the federal government has been providing Title 10 grants through a grant process since the 1970s.