Medication Abortion Restrictions Draw Lawsuit in Ariz.

March 6, 2014 — Planned Parenthood of Arizona and Tucson Women's Center on Wednesday announced a lawsuit against Arizona rules that would restrict the use of medication abortion, the Los Angeles Times' "Nation Now" reports (Carcamo, "Nation Now," Los Angeles Times, 3/5).

The rules were mandated as part of a 2012 state law (HB 2036) that includes several antiabortion-rights measures (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/29). Courts have blocked a provision that banned most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy ("Nation Now," Los Angeles Times, 3/5).

The rules are scheduled to take effect on April 1. Among other requirements, they 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 FDA-approved dosage, which is higher than the dosage that typically is used in practice (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/29).

According to Reuters, about 32% of the 13,340 abortions performed in Arizona in 2012 were performed using medication.

Lawsuit Details

The Center for Reproductive Rights, along with one other group representing the plaintiffs, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.

The suit argues that the medication abortion restrictions are unconstitutional and would severely limit women's access to non-surgical abortion care (Schwartz, Reuters, 3/5).


State Sen. Kimberly Yee (R), the bill's sponsor, said that it is "irresponsible for Planned Parenthood to try to get around an FDA-approved protocol regarding the dosage for which this abortion medication would be administered to women, because we're talking about the health and safety of women and the importance that the FDA felt with respect to a limit of seven weeks."

However, PPA President Bryan Howard said that the "real purpose of [the law] was to restrict access to safe legal abortion in Arizona and interfere in a woman's private medical decisions." He said that the rules would have forced about 800 women in the state to undergo surgical abortion, since they would prohibit the use of medication abortion after seven weeks of pregnancy (Christie, AP/Washington Times, 3/5).