Ariz. Moves To Implement Clinic Rules, Medication Abortion Restrictions

January 29, 2014 — Arizona officials on Monday published new abortion clinic regulations that are scheduled to take effect April 1, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Christie, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/27).

The new rules, which are mandated under a 2012 state law (HB 2036), require that a physician with hospital admitting privileges is present in a clinic while a woman undergoes a medication or surgical abortion. The physician must remain at the clinic until the woman is ready to leave the recovery room (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/27/13).

In addition, the rules 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 dosage that typically is used in practice.

Abortion clinics also must report complications that result in a patient being transported by an ambulance (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/27). Among other things, the rules require all abortion clinics to have ultrasound equipment, meet new standards for recovery rooms and patient follow-up care, and have a nurse on site to monitor a patient if a doctor is unavailable (Fischer, Arizona Capitol Times, 1/27).

Meanwhile, abortion-rights opponents have also suggested the state implement unannounced inspections of clinics and impose criminal penalties on individuals who help minors obtain an abortion without parental consent.

Reactions to Rules

Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute said the rules would make it "incredibly difficult to provide medication abortion in Arizona."

She added that "the off-label protocol [for medication abortion drugs] is simply a better protocol when you consider the costs and the side effects. And the limit with the FDA protocol, that one can only be used up to seven weeks, and the off-label can be used up to nine weeks of pregnancy" (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/27).

However, Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy, an antiabortion-rights group, said the rules would allow women to have "the highest standard of safety used when they're taking abortion medication" (Arizona Capitol Times, 1/27).