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Federal Judge Schedules Hearing for Ariz. Medication Abortion Challenge

Federal Judge Schedules Hearing for Ariz. Medication Abortion Challenge

June 11, 2015 — A federal judge on June 23 will hold a hearing to consider a lawsuit challenging an Arizona law (SB 1318) that, among other provisions, will require abortion providers to tell patients medically unproven information about medication abortion, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 6/10).

Law Details

The law, scheduled to take effect on July 3, will require physicians to tell women the medically unproven statement that administering high doses of progesterone could reverse a medication abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/5). The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said there is no medically accepted evidence that medication abortion can be reversed (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 6/10).

In addition, the law will bar women in the state from purchasing health plans that include abortion coverage on the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) insurance marketplace. The restrictions do not apply to pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, or when a pregnancy threatens a woman's life.

The law also will require that physicians provide documentation to the state Department of Health Services showing that they have hospital admitting privileges. The records will not be made available to the public.

Lawsuit Details

The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law on behalf of Planned Parenthood Arizona and several other Arizona providers, requesting that the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona block the medication abortion provision from taking effect. According to the lawsuit, the measure violates physicians' rights under the First Amendment by requiring them, "unwillingly and against their best medical judgment," to convey "a state-mandated message that is neither medically nor scientifically supported."

In addition, the suit argues that the law violates patients' rights under the 14th Amendment because it requires them to receive "false, misleading and/or irrelevant information" (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/5).