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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2012
6:24 PM

CONTACT: ACLU

Robyn Shepherd, ACLU national, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org
Alessandra Soler Meetze, ACLU of Arizona, (602) 773-6006 or 301-3705 (cell); ameetze@acluaz.org

State Drops Defense of Arizona Law that Would Have Withheld Critical Resources for Women’s Health

Law Would Have Blocked Resources for Organizations that Provide Abortion Referrals or Counseling

PHOENIX - January 30 - The state of Arizona today agreed to a judge’s order permanently blocking a law that would have excluded any nonprofit organization that provides abortion referrals or counseling from receiving donations through the state’s Working Poor Tax Credit Program. A federal judge had temporarily barred implementation of the law in December.

The law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona and the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence (AzCADV).

“Arizonans can breathe a sigh of relief now that this dangerous and unconstitutional law will not go into effect,” Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “A woman in crisis should be able to obtain unbiased information about all her options including abortion.”

The Working Poor Tax Credit Program allows taxpayers to claim a credit on their state tax returns if they make a donation to organizations that serve low-income Arizona residents. However, the proposed law would have prohibited an otherwise qualified organization from participating in the program if the organization provides referrals for abortion. The law was so broad that it could prevent groups from even discussing abortion or other reproductive health services with women in crisis.

“This law was yet another example of government interference in a woman’s most personal, private decisions,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Extreme political opposition to abortion is simply no excuse for depriving women of essential information and services. This law was indefensible from the very start.”

In its brief seeking the injunction, the ACLU argued that organizations serving survivors of partner violence and sexual assault in particular would be hurt by this law. Many victims of domestic violence have experienced a range of sexually abusive behaviors, including rape, which can lead to unwanted pregnancy. The ACLU also contended it is essential that a woman overcoming a violent relationship be able to make her own health care decisions.

“We are glad that domestic violence programs will not have to choose between providing women requested information and much needed funding,” said Elizabeth Ditlevson, acting executive director of AzCADV. “As a result of the permanent injunction, domestic violence programs can continue to focus all of their efforts on ensuring women and families can make the choices that are best for their circumstances.”

More information on this case can be found at: www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/arizona-coalition-against-domestic-violence-vs-arizona-department-revenue

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.



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