SAN FRANCISCO -- An Arizona law barring Medicaid patients from obtaining routine care from medical providers who perform elective abortions violates federal requirements and may not be enforced, a federal appeals court decided unanimously Thursday.
The law prohibited low income recipients of Medicaid from receiving coverage for family planning services from clinics that provided abortions for reasons other than medical necessity, rape or incest. Such abortions are not covered by Medicaid.
The 9th Circuit said the Arizona law violated a Medicaid Act requirement that gives patients freedom to choose qualified doctors and clinics, including those that provide privately funded, legal abortions.
The law’s “purpose is to exclude concededly qualified medical providers from eligibility for public funds unless they decline to perform elective abortions,” wrote Judge Marsha S. Berzon, a Clinton appointee.