Arizona federal judge considers preliminary injunction against law targeting abortion service providers

by on November 20, 2011  •  In Reproductive rights

The parties in Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence v. Greene are waiting to see if U.S. District Court Roslyn Silver will enjoin a statute scheduled to take effect January 1 that would block charitable donations to organizations that provide or refer for abortions. Judge Silver heard arguments last week. (from the Arizona Republic :)

House Bill 2384 excludes from the state's Working Poor Tax Credit Program any organizations that "provide, pay for, promote, provide coverage of or provide referrals for abortions" or that financially support any organizations that do those things.

The Working Poor Tax Credit Program offers Arizona taxpayers a dollar-for-dollar tax credit to donate to organizations that serve low-income residents. Individuals can claim up to $200, and a couple filing jointly can claim up to $400. Arizona is the first state to address abortion through tax code in this way…

The Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, filed a lawsuit alleging that the law violates freedom of speech and could be dangerous to abused women. ACLU attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas argued [that] "This law excludes members from participating in the tax-credit program based solely on the opinion they express. Viewpoint discrimination should not be permitted."

She said if the law goes into effect, domestic-violence victims will be impacted…"Women in abusive relationships often experience a range of sexually violent behaviors that can lead to unintended pregnancy," Kolbi-Molinas said. "Maybe they don't want to be forced to bear an abuser's child … maybe they don't want a child to be subject to child abuse … there are many reasons."

Arizona Solicitor General Dave Cole defended the law. "The choice the Legislature made here is both reasonable and within the spirit of its authority," Cole said. He said the law does not restrict speech, but only a group's activities — such as promoting or referring.

While Silver did not issue a ruling from the bench, she did indicate that the law may be a restriction of viewpoint speech.


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