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Updated Feb 11, 2013 - 2:54 pm

Judge boots Arizona law aimed at Planned Parenthood

PHOENIX -- A federal judge has overturned a 2012 Arizona anti-abortion law targeting Planned Parenthood.

U.S. District Judge Neil Wake' said the law's ban on Medicaid funding for non-abortion health care provided by doctors and clinics that also perform abortions violates federal Medicaid law.

``A state may not restrict a beneficiary's right to select any qualified provider for reasons wholly unrelated to the provider's ability to deliver Medicaid services,'' Wake wrote in the ruling issued Friday.

At issue in the case is whether the abortion providers would be barred from being paid with public money for non-abortion services such as cervical exams.

Attorney General Tom Horne did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the state would appeal.

Wake's latest ruling granted a request for a pretrial verdict in favor of the plaintiffs- Planned Parenthood Arizona Inc. and a physician with his own practice.

Wake cited much the same reasoning on Oct. 19 when he temporarily barred enforcement of the law pending the outcome of the case.

Wake also noted that his October reasoning nearly mirrored that of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals when it subsequently ruled that a nearly identical Indiana law violated the Medicaid law.

Legislative supporters of the law said it would ensure that no public money subsidizes abortion, and attorneys for the state argued that the state was allowed to decide qualifications for health care providers.

However, Wake said Arizona's ban exceeded the state's authority and was a ``strained interpretation'' of the federal law.

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