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Supreme Court Declines To Review Ariz. Medication Abortion Restrictions, Leaving Law Blocked for Now

Supreme Court Declines To Review Ariz. Medication Abortion Restrictions, Leaving Law Blocked for Now

December 15, 2014 — The Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider a federal appeals court's decision that blocked an Arizona law restricting medication abortion, meaning that the law will remain unenforced for now, Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Stohr, Bloomberg Businessweek, 12/15).

As is customary, the justices did not comment on their decision (Barnes, Washington Post, 12/15).

Background on Law

The Arizona medication abortion rules -- which are among several abortion-related regulations mandated under a 2012 state law (HB 2036) -- would bar physicians from administering abortion-inducing drugs beyond seven weeks of pregnancy. Physicians also would be required to administer both drugs in the medication abortion regimen on site and at the FDA-approved dosage, which is higher than the evidence-based dosage typically used in practice.

Previous Rulings

Planned Parenthood Arizona and other groups filed suit over the rules. In June, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary injunction until a hearing could be held, reversing a federal judge's decision to allow the rules to take effect on April 1 (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/3).

In a unanimous decision, the three-judge 9th Circuit panel said the law placed an undue burden on a woman's right to abortion. Judge William Fletcher wrote in the decision, "Arizona has presented no evidence whatsoever that the law furthers any interest in women's health," whereas letting the law take effect would delay and impinge on abortion care by increasing costs, making it more difficult to obtain the procedure and increasing health risks (Liptak, New York Times, 12/15). PPAZ's case in federal court was placed on hold after the state in September petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the injunction (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/3).

Reaction

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said in a statement, "The court did the right thing today, but this dangerous and misguided law should never have passed in the first place." She added, "Politicians across the country should take note: These harmful and unconstitutional restrictions won't be tolerated by the courts or the public" (Washington Post, 12/15).

Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northup said in a statement, "Women who have made the decision to end a pregnancy will continue to get safe, legal care based on the expertise of their doctors, not politicians who presume to know better" (Williams, NBC News, 12/15).