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Arizona's New Abortion Rules to Stay Blocked

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Arizona's newest regulations against medicated abortion will remain blocked while the court battle continues.

The court battle is over rules that were recently implemented by the state health department to comply with House Bill 2036, signed into law in 2012. A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned the lower court's ruling that denied a preliminary injunction against the law, so those new rules will be blocked for the foreseeable future.

"Plaintiffs have introduced uncontroverted evidence that the Arizona law substantially burdens women's access to abortion services, and Arizona has introduced no evidence that the law advances in any way its interest in women's health," the decision says.

See also:
-The Center for Arizona Policy Hates Gays, Abortions, and Tells Politicians What to Do

The law, and new regulations, mandate that doctors must comply with the FDA protocol for prescribing the pills used in medicated abortions.

The FDA's protocol for the abortion medications says, among other things, that these medications can be used up to seven weeks of pregnancy. Abortion providers in the state currently rely on the medical standard outlined by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says the preferred method of administering the medications can be done through nine weeks of pregnancy.

One Scottsdale OB/GYN said these new restrictions "turn back the clock" on how medicated abortions are administered, adding that the modern, preferred method is based on rigorous scientific studies.

Planned Parenthood of Arizona CEO Bryan Howard has said that about 2,500 women in Arizona came to Planned Parenthood for medicated abortion services in 2013, within nine weeks of pregnancy -- the time frame for medicated abortions before today's new rules. Under this new regulation, that wouldn't have been an option for 800 of those women, Howard said.

Another part of HB 2036, which banned abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy, already was overturned by the courts. The law is one of nearly 20 anti-abortion laws pushed by the right-wing Center for Arizona Policy. Four of those laws (not including HB 2036) have been overturned in court.

Another one of the Center for Arizona Policy's bills, allowing warrantless inspections of abortion clinics, was signed into law this year by Governor Brewer.

Now the battle over this medicated-abortion law continues, although the law won't be in effect.

"This decision is a victory for women's health," Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards says in a statement. "It assures that Arizona women can access safe, legal abortion following the best, safest medical guidelines while our case challenging this dangerous and misguided law continues."

Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights have teamed up to battle the law in court.

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Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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