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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2011
Alessandra Soler Meetze, ACLU of Arizona, 602-650-1854 (main line), (602) 773-6006 (direct) or 602-418-5499 (cell); firstname.lastname@example.org
Robyn Shepherd, ACLU National, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; email@example.com
PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit today against a law that would exclude any nonprofit organization that provides abortion referrals or counseling from receiving donations through the state’s Working Poor Tax Credit Program. The law is so broad that it could prevent groups from even discussing abortion or other reproductive health services with women in crisis.
The ACLU filed the suit along with the ACLU of Arizona and the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence (AzCADV).
“At a time when assistance for the poor and underserved is so crucial, this bill aims to take away existing resources from the most vulnerable and limit their access to information and services,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “That’s not only a violation of the First Amendment, it’s cruel.”
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, this new law prohibits an otherwise qualified organization from participating in the program if the organization provides referrals for abortion.
“Extreme political opposition to abortion is no excuse for depriving women of essential information and services,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “This law is just part of a nationwide effort to take resources away from organizations that provide critical health care and services to women.”
Organizations that serve 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. It is essential that a woman overcoming a violent relationship be able to make her own health care decisions. Survivors of domestic and sexual violence deserve to have access to a full range of information and options when escaping an abusive situation.
“This bill puts organizations that serve women in desperate need between a rock and a hard place,” said Allison Bones, executive director of AzCADV. “Programs that serve victims of domestic violence should not have to choose between much-needed donations and the ability to provide comprehensive, uncensored care to the women they serve.”
Attorneys on the case include Daniel Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona and Kolbi-Molinas and Brigitte Amiri of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
More information on this case can be found at: www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/arizona-coalition-against-domestic-violence-vs-arizona-department-revenue
Read the complaint.