Planned Parenthood Resumes Medication Abortions at Ariz. Clinic After Complying With State Law

February 20, 2014 — More than two years after it stopped providing medication abortions, an Arizona Planned Parenthood clinic is offering the services after coming into compliance with a state law, the Arizona Daily Sun reports.

In 2011, Planned Parenthood of Arizona was forced to end medication abortion services at its Flagstaff, Yuma and Prescott Valley locations after a state law took effect that specifies that only licensed physicians -- not nurse practitioners -- can administer the drugs. The physician also must meet face-to-face with the patient 24 hours before administering the drugs.

PPAZ President Bryan Howard said that it took more than two years to find a doctor who could offer medication abortions at the group's Flagstaff location, which does not provide surgical abortions. The physician will only be available on Tuesdays. As a result, women must meet with the doctor at their first appointment and return a week later for the abortion in order to satisfy the 24-hour waiting period requirement. The Flagstaff clinic is offering medication abortions to women who are between five and eight weeks pregnant.

The lack of abortion services in Flagstaff during the past few years has caused hardship for women in the area, said Beth Otterstein, a clinician and clinic administrator. Women had to travel to Phoenix or Tucson, which is more than three hours away for some.

More Restrictions Coming Soon

In April, a new law will take effect that requires a physician to administer both drugs in the medication abortion regimen. The second drug is taken 24 hours after the first. Currently, a nurse practitioner can dispense the medication or a woman can self-administer it.

In addition, the new regulations would reduce the timeframe that medication abortion can be administered by two weeks.

Howard said the changes could once again force the Flagstaff clinic to stop offering medication abortions, unless it can find a physician who can see patients two days in a row (Hendricks, Arizona Daily Sun, 2/18).