The Cost of Anti-Choice Extremism


In August of this year, a U.S. district judge ordered the State of Arizona to pay $600,000 in attorney’s fees to Planned Parenthood, after the reproductive health organization filed a lawsuit against a law requiring doctors to falsely inform a woman seeking a medical abortion that the effects could be reversed, should she change her mind. This latest settlement means that, since 2009, Arizona residents have had to pay more than $2 million in court fees and payouts as a result of state legislators attempting to pass unconstitutional laws that restrict access to a Constitutionally-protected and necessary medical procedure.

The ruling on the “Abortion Reversal Measure,” which was repealed in 2016 by Governor Ducey (who, it’s important to note, initially signed it into law), is the latest attempt in what is clearly a disturbing pattern by Arizona conservatives to push legally-indefensible measures purely with the aim to harass and intimidate those who defend reproductive health. Until a settlement is reached, organizations such as Planned Parenthood are on the hook for legal defense fees, lobbying fees, not to mention the hours spent preparing and litigating the cases in court.

According to the Arizona Capitol Times, there are at least three cases in the past eight years where legislators proceeded to push bills that were unlikely to stand, leaving Arizona taxpayers on the hook for the legal costs incurred:

Planned Parenthood v. Betlach: HB2800 was written to prevent Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers in the state from receiving federal Medicaid funds, despite the federal government having ruled that “Medicaid enrollees can seek services from any qualified provider,” and the fact that Planned Parenthood is already barred from using federal money for abortion services, thanks to the Hyde Amendment. Cost to taxpayers: almost $400,000.

Planned Parenthood v. Humble: A law requiring doctors to administer medication abortions only according to USFDA labels had already been proposed, and was hung up in the 9th Circuit Court. Despite this, Kimberly Yee (R-Phoenix) attempted to pass this legislation in Arizona before the FDA updated its procedures, rendering the law useless. Attorney’s fees in the case totaled close to $500,000.

Planned Parenthood v. Brnovich: The Abortion Reversal measure, requiring doctors to inform women that medical abortions could be reversed should they get an injection of progesterone after taking the first of two pills. The science for this claim was based off of a study performed by two doctors with ties to the pro-life movement, and a sample size of less than ten women. As mentioned, Arizona taxpayers are now responsible for $600,000 in attorney’s fees, despite the governor repealing it in 2016.

Not one of the bills mentioned above, or any of the myriad other rules and regulations that have either been proposed or passed, serve the women of Arizona. They fall neatly into the category of TRAP Laws, which are designed to make the cost of providing abortion care too burdensome for clinics to bear. More often than not they are based off of questionable science and claim to protect women, despite abortions being a safer medical procedure than wisdom tooth extraction.

.It is important for the voting public of Arizona to be aware of the costs their legislators are incurring and passing along to them, and to vote pro-choice candidates into office so that they can spend our tax dollars on programs that help, rather than hurt, the women of this state.

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