Arizona sued over rules limiting abortion drug use

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 5, 2014 at 6:50 pm •  Published: March 5, 2014
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PHOENIX (AP) — Abortion providers said Wednesday that they have sued the state of Arizona to try to block new state rules limiting the use of the most common abortion drugs.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Tucson alleges that the new rules required under a 2012 law will effectively block the ability of many women to have abortions.

The rules are the latest in a series of aggressive anti-abortion measures passed by the Arizona Legislature in recent years. The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would allow surprise, warrantless inspections of abortion clinics, and lawmakers in 2012 enacted a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. The 20-week ban was later overturned by the courts.

Abortion rights supporters believe lawmakers are attempting to impose heavy-handed rules that make it impossible for many women to get abortions. Abortion opponents believe they are carrying out the will of the people in restricting a practice that they believe is morally wrong.

The rules released in January by the Arizona Department of Health Services are set to take effect April 1. They require that the most common abortion-inducing drug be administered only at the FDA-approved dosage no later than seven weeks into a pregnancy rather than nine weeks, and that both doses be taken at the clinic.

The usual dose is lower and usually taken at home, decreasing the cost and chance of complications.

Based on Arizona abortion statistics for 2012, the rules would have forced about 800 women to undergo surgical abortions because they ban drug use after seven weeks, Planned Parenthood Arizona president Bryan Howard said.

Ohio and Texas have similar laws requiring the use of only FDA-approved protocols for drug-abortions that have been upheld by federal courts. But state courts in Oklahoma and North Dakota have blocked similar rules.

The president of the Center for Arizona Policy, a powerful anti-abortion group that pushed the 2012 law, issued a statement slamming the lawsuit.

The group has pushed a series of abortion restrictions in recent years that have become law. But two of those, a ban on Medicaid money for any of Planned Parenthood non-abortion services and the 20-week ban, have been blocked by federal courts.

"It is a shame that when Planned Parenthood can't win public opinion, they try to use the courts to impose their will and bail out their abortion business," the statement from Cathi Herrod said.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction blocking the new rules from taking effect. It was filed by Planned Parenthood Arizona and Tucson Women's Center.