"Dangerous" New Laws Force Planned Parenthood to End Abortions in Six Arizona Cities

Thanks to "dangerous" new laws passed by the Arizona Legislature this year -- and a recent court decision that overturned an injunction on laws passed in 2009 -- Planned Parenthood announced today that it will discontinue abortion services in six Arizona cities.

"Under the guise of making laws that make women safe, these restrictions will actually be more dangerous for rural, low-income women, delaying care and making access difficult," Planned Parenthood Arizona President Bryan Howard says.

Under one of the new laws, stiffer regulations are placed on the early abortion-by-pill that subject the medication to the same regulations as surgical abortion.

In other words, because of the law, only doctors are allowed to administer the pill (a.k.a. hand it to a patient and tell them to swallow it -- not exactly rocket science). Physician's assistants and nurses are no longer allowed to hand a woman a pill, as they had been permitted in the past.

Doing so, officials from Planned Parenthood tell New Times, would block access of early-term abortions to women living in rural communities because it's hard to find doctors in those areas willing -- or trained -- to perform abortions.

"For the first time in more than 30 years, Arizona women will have far fewer health care options available to them," Howard says. "There will be no known provider of abortion outside of Metro Phoenix or Tucson."

The group says that by preventing early-term abortions by over-regulating the pill, it will lead to more late-term, potentially riskier abortions.

To put things into perspective as far as how much sense Arizona's abortion laws make, the Legislature also passed a bill this year that requires women getting an abortion to sign a document promising they aren't aborting the pregnancy based on sex, and another promising they aren't aborting their pregnancy based on race. Under the law, anyone caught doing so could be slapped with a class-three felony.

"There is no indication that [people aborting babies because of race or gender] is even an issue," Planned Parenthood Arizona spokeswoman Cynde Cerf tells New Times.

Women in Arizona can still get abortions through Planned Parenthood, but only at the organization's facilities in Glendale, Tucson, and Tempe. If you live in, say, St. Johns, good luck to you.

"Planned Parenthood will continue to fight these unconstitutional laws in court," Howard says. "And, while we fight these laws, we will have to do even more to reach out to Arizona women and families that need affordable family planning and prevention care."

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