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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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