April 9, 2014 — A federal appeals court on Tuesday issued a temporary injunction against medication abortion restrictions in Arizona until the judges rule on a lawsuit over the issue, the Arizona Daily Star reports (Fischer, Arizona Daily Star, 4/8).
The ruling comes just a week after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay to halt the new medication abortion restrictions, reversing a federal judge's decision to allow the rules to take effect on April 1. At the time, the appeals court said it needed to deliberate on an entire briefing before deciding on the emergency stay request -- filed by Planned Parenthood Arizona and other groups -- and it ordered both sides to submit briefs by April 4.
The medication abortion rules -- which are among several abortion-related regulations mandated under a 2012 state law (HB 2036) -- would 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 typically used in practice (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/3).
The three-judge panel in an unsigned order said the temporary injunction will remain in place until at least May 12, when a hearing on the restrictions is scheduled. The judges wrote that the case "raises serious legal questions" about whether the law imposes an "undue burden" on women seeking abortion care.
In addition, the judges said that allowing the law to take effect while its legality is debated in court could create "irreparable harm" to some women "because they will immediately lose access to a common abortion procedure as soon as the law takes effect" (Arizona Daily Star, 4/8).
David Brown -- an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is handling the case for PPAZ -- said the order bodes well for their case. "I think the fact [that] they've said we have demonstrated a strong showing on the merits is a very good sign for us," he said, adding, "We've put on a very strong case that we're likely to win it -- so we're very pleased."
Meanwhile, Cathi Herrod -- president of the Center for Arizona Policy, which helped develop the law -- said that the ruling was "another temporary order" and that the case "is far from over." She added, "We remain confident that eventually the Arizona law will be enforceable just like the Texas and Ohio laws."
CRR Files State Challenge to Rules
In related news, CRR said Tuesday that it also has filed a lawsuit against the medication abortion restrictions in Maricopa County Superior Court, alleging that they violate the state constitution.
Specifically, CRR argues that the state Legislature does not have the authority to let FDA and drugmakers set state standards. In addition, the group argues that the state Health Services Department violated its public comment rules when the rules were published in January (AP/Washington Post, 4/8).