Under Emergency Rule, Ariz. Abortion Providers Must Report on Fetal Tissue Donation

August 20, 2015 — Under an emergency rule filed on Friday, Arizona abortion providers now must disclose to the state how they handle fetal tissue, Capitol Media Services/KJZZ reports (Fischer, Capitol Media Services/KJZZ, 8/18).


Last month, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) called for a review of state statutes regarding fetal tissue after an antiabortion-rights group released a series of misleading videos that showed Planned Parenthood employees discussing fetal tissue donation. According to Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood of Arizona, the organization does not provide fetal tissue donations.

Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said during her review of state statutes, she found Arizona does not have any criminal statutes on the sale of fetal tissue, although the practice is prohibited under federal law. According to Christ, state statutes only ban the use of fetal tissue resulting from an abortion in medical investigation and experimentation.

Following her review, Christ submitted an emergency rule to the state attorney general's office that would require abortion clinics in the state to submit reports on the final disposition of fetal tissue and any compensation received for tissue donations. According to Christ, the information will be included with reports that clinics are required to file for each abortion procedure.

Christ noted that if DHS believes any of the information is inaccurate, the agency would confer with the state attorney general's office about whether to launch an investigation. According to Christ, clinics that violate the proposed rule by failing to submit the information could risk closure. However, she said criminalizing fetal tissue sale under Arizona law likely would require action from the state Legislature (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/12).

Next Steps

According to CMS/KJZZ, the rule went into effect on Friday without public comment or input. State health officials in enacting the rule acknowledged that there was no evidence any fetal tissue laws had been violated in Arizona (Capitol Media Services/KJZZ, 8/18).

Christ noted that emergency rules are only in effect for 180 days and cannot be renewed more than one time (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/12). After that period, Christ would need to implement a regular rule, including the opportunity for public comment and input, CMS/KJZZ reports.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood spokesperson Annet Ruiter said, "As an organization, we need to carefully review these rules and determine their impact on our delivery of abortion health care. We will determine whether to provide comment when our review is complete" (Capitol Media Services/KJZZ, 8/18).