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Federal court dismisses lawsuit against repealed Ariz. medication abortion law

September 26, 2016 — A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit challenging a now-repealed Arizona law (HB 2036) that targeted medication abortion care, AP/News 4 KVOA reports (AP/News 4 KVOA, 9/22).

Background

The law, signed by former Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in 2012, would have required abortion providers in the state to follow the Federal Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) outdated medication abortion regimen. FDA updated the medication abortion drug label this year to align with the scientifically proven, evidence-based standard of care that most providers already had been using (Knight, Rewire, 9/22).

In April 2014, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) filed a lawsuit against HB 2036 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. According to Gama, that requirement violates the state constitution, which bars state lawmakers from assigning their authority to other entities (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/16/15).

A separate federal case over HB 2036 was on hold while the state lawsuit was decided. The federal lawsuit died after the state court held that the law was not properly enacted.

In April, the state filed a notice that it would appeal Gama's ruling (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/7).

Latest developments

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge David C. Bury signed an order that accepted an agreement between the state's attorneys and Planned Parenthood Arizona to formally dismiss the lawsuit against HB 2036 (AP/News 4 KVOA, 9/22).

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of CRR, said, "These baseless, unscientific restrictions should never have been enacted in the first place" (Rewire, 9/22). A recent study found that while a similar law was in effect in Ohio, women had limited access to medication abortions, experienced a higher rate of complications and paid more for the process (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/6).