Court appears poised keep blocking abortion rules

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 13, 2014 at 4:52 pm •  Published: May 13, 2014
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court appeared poised Tuesday to continue blocking the nation's strictest restrictions on the use of abortion drugs, questioning the constitutionality of the Arizona rules a month after putting them on hold.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from the state and Planned Parenthood Arizona, which sued to stop the rules. The court issued an injunction in April, saying women likely would suffer irreparable harm if the restrictions were allowed to take effect. Arizona argued that the rules aim to safeguard women and follow Food and Drug Administration guidelines.

The regulations ban women from taking the most common abortion-inducing drug — RU-486 — after the seventh week of pregnancy. Women had been allowed to take the abortion pill through nine weeks of pregnancy.

The rules also require that the drug be administered only at the FDA-approved dosage and that both doses be taken at a clinic. The usual dosage is lower and now usually taken at home, decreasing the cost and chance of complications.

On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood argued to keep the injunction in place while its lawsuit is pending. The group is challenging the constitutionality of the rules and wants them thrown out.

Two of three judges expressed a willingness to continue the ban and questioned the constitutionality of the regulations enacted by the Arizona Legislature.

"One could look at this legislation as pretextual and an effort to flat out reduce the number of abortions by any means," Judge Susan Graber said. "That's one concern I have."