ACLU Challenges Arizona Law Requiring Doctors to Say Abortion Is Reversible

The American Civil Liberties Union, along with Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, filed suit in federal court today to block an Arizona law requiring doctors to tell patients it is possible to reverse a medication-induced abortion.

Arguing that there is "no credible medical evidence" that supports the idea that an abortion can be halted, the lawsuit contends that Senate Bill 1318 violates doctors' First Amendment rights by compelling them to lie to their patients.

"Women seeking medical care deserve accurate information, not medically unsupported scripts written by politicians," said Andrew Beck, a staff attorney at the ACLU.

Bryan Howard, CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona accused legislators of "writing junk science into law" and "putting the health and safety of Arizona women at risk."

After the law was passed in April, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists publicly spoke out against the procedure, saying it is "not supported by the body of scientific evidence" and is "not recommended." The only published research on the topic is a case study published in the December 2012 issue of the peer-reviewed Annals of Pharmacotherapy journal, which tells the story of four women who delivered healthy babies after taking just one of the two pills required to complete a drug-induced abortion and receiving hormone therapy. No controlled experimental trials have been conducted. 

An Arizona-based OBGYN, however, testified before lawmakers that he successfully had used the treatment to halt abortions. Supporters argue his results have been replicated across the country more than 100 times.

"Women who have begun a chemical abortion process and change their minds, for whatever reason, should not have their baby stolen from them because Planned Parenthood, or any abortionist, withheld potentially life-saving facts," the Center for Arizona Policy, which backed the legislation, said in a statement.

In the interest of informed consent, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, ruled that it was constitutionally permissible for states to compel physicians to provide women with information that may encourage them to reconsider their decision to have an abortion.

Dan Pochoda, senior counsel at the ACLU of Arizona, though, contends that SB 1318 is different.

"Requiring counseling is one thing," Pochoda said, "But when the state mandates specific speech that is both inaccurate and politically motivated we get into totally different territory." 

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Elizabeth Stuart
Contact: Elizabeth Stuart

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