July 7, 2011 — Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Richard Gama on Wednesday delayed enforcement of new state laws restricting medication abortion services, allowing attorneys to prepare for an Aug. 22 hearing on a legal challenge filed by Planned Parenthood of Arizona, the Arizona Republic reports. The laws prohibit nurse practitioners from providing medication abortion and require physicians to perform many services, such as pelvic exams, typically performed by nurse practitioners prior to medication abortion. Planned Parenthood alleges that the laws will eliminate abortion services at some locations and limit them at others (Beard Rau, Arizona Republic, 7/7).
The restrictions were scheduled to take effect on July 20. After Aug. 22, Gama will need to decide whether to issue an injunction against the laws or permit them to take effect while the court hears the lawsuit, the East Valley Tribune reports. Cynde Cerf, a spokesperson for PPAZ, said the agreement, though temporary, is significant because "women in rural communities are still going to get care."
In the lawsuit, PPAZ argues that three of its clinics that are staffed only with nurse practitioners would cease offering abortion services under the new laws. The laws also would create unnecessary delays for patients seeking care at other clinics because they would have to wait until a doctor is available (Fischer, East Valley Tribune, 7/6).