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Ariz. Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Restrict Medication Abortion

January 28, 2016 — Arizona lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill (SB 1324) that aims to restrict medication abortion after a similar state law was ruled unconstitutional, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Christie, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/27).

Background

The previous state law (HB 2036), enacted in 2012, would have barred physicians from administering medication abortion drugs beyond seven weeks of pregnancy, among several other abortion-related provisions. Physicians also would have been required to administer both drugs in the medication abortion regimen on site, necessitating an extra office visit, and at the dosage provided on the FDA label, which is higher than the dosage typically used in practice.

Planned Parenthood Arizona and other groups filed suit over the rules, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in June 2014 issued a temporary injunction until a hearing could be held. In September 2014, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne (R) filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review the 9th Circuit ruling.

Meanwhile, the Center for Reproductive Rights in April 2014 also filed suit against the medication abortion rules in Maricopa County Superior Court. In October 2015, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Richard Gama blocked the law, ruling that it violated the state constitution because it would force the state to rely on FDA's protocols and would have to change whenever the agency updated drug labels.

The federal case was on hold until the state lawsuit was decided. CRR staff attorney David Brown said the federal lawsuit will not go forward if the state does not appeal Gama's ruling (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/16/15). According to the AP/Bee, the federal injunction on the law is still in effect.

Bill Details

Like the blocked law, the new bill would prohibit a woman who is more than seven weeks' pregnant from obtaining a medication abortion. According to the AP/Bee, abortion providers in the state currently offer medication abortion through nine weeks of pregnancy.

In addition, the bill would require that medication abortion drugs be administered in a clinic according to FDA dosage standards.

David Brown, an attorney for CRR, stated, "The purpose of the law is to force doctors to practice obsolete medicine in order to make abortion harder to obtain and to punish the women who try to obtain it" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/27).