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Arizona Providers Sue To Block Antiabortion-Rights Law

Arizona Providers Sue To Block Antiabortion-Rights Law

June 5, 2015 — The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Arizona abortion providers against a state law (SB 1318) that, if it takes effect, will require physicians to share medically unproven information with patients seeking medication abortions, among other abortion restrictions, the Huffington Post reports (Bellware, Huffington Post, 6/4).

The law is set to take effect July 3 (Beard Rau, Arizona Republic, 6/4).

Law Details

The law will require physicians to tell women the medically unproven statement that administering high doses of progesterone could reverse a medication abortion.

In addition, the law will bar women in the state from purchasing health plans that include abortion coverage on the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) insurance marketplace. The restrictions do not apply to pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, or when a pregnancy threatens a woman's life.

The law also will require that physicians provide documentation to the state Department of Health Services showing that they have hospital admitting privileges. The records will not be made available to the public (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/31).

Details of Lawsuit

The plaintiffs -- Planned Parenthood Arizona and several other Arizona providers -- are requesting that the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona block the law from going into effect because of the medication abortion provision. According to the lawsuit, the measure violates physicians' rights under the First Amendment by requiring them, "unwillingly and against their best medical judgment," to convey "a state-mandated message that is neither medically nor scientifically supported" (Huffington Post, 6/4).

In addition, the suit argues that the law violates patients' rights under the 14th Amendment because it requires them to receive "false, misleading and/or irrelevant information."

Comments

The Center for Arizona Policy -- the antiabortion-rights group that pushed for the law -- said it was "confident" the law would be upheld in court (Arizona Republic, 6/4).

Meanwhile, Ilana Addis, chair of the Arizona chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, on Thursday said there is not credible medical evidence to support the law's claim that medication abortions can be reversed (Huffington Post, 6/4).

Similarly, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said, "This reckless law forces doctors to lie to their patients, and it puts women's health at risk" (Van Velzer/Christie, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/4).

According to David Brown, staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, the law "may result in women beginning the [abortion] process before they're totally ready because they think it can be reversed" (Huffington Post, 6/4).

Dan Pochoda, senior counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said, "This clearly reveals the goal here ... is to increase the burdens on being able to get an abortion with the clear goal from [abortion-rights opponents] to abolish the ability to get an abortion at all" (Arizona Republic, 6/4).