The Center for Reproductive Rights announced that it's appealing a federal judge's decision earlier this week that allowed new abortion regulations in Arizona to take effect.
As of yesterday, doctors in Arizona who prescribe the pills for medicated abortions must do so within FDA guidelines, rather than following the most commonly accepted medical practices, outlined by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights sought a temporary injunction against the law from taking effect, but a federal judge ruled that the new obstacles to abortion "do not qualify as irreparable harm," which is the standard for such an injunction.
David Brown, a staff attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, released a statement indicating that they're appealing the ruling.
"We are confident that the Ninth Circuit will do what the lower court's ruling failed to do: protect women's rights and health by preserving the same safe and legal access to non-surgical abortion that Arizona women have had for over a decade," he says.
The new regulations were part of House Bill 2036, signed into law in 2012. (Another part of that law has already been overturned in court.)
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.
On its face, that might not seem like a huge deal. But consider that there's only one abortion clinic north of Phoenix in the state of Arizona, and it only provides these medicated abortions, not surgical abortions.
Some towns on the Navajo Reservation in the Four Corners area or on the Arizona-Utah border are already three to four hour drives to Flagstaff. If those women miss the seven-week cutoff, that turns into a five- or six-hour drive to Phoenix, which then requires an overnight stay due to abortion regulations requiring two trips to the clinic.
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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.
The law that forced this regulation was pushed by the Center for Arizona Policy, with a claim that the "health and safety of women" was in jeopardy with use of the abortion medications. Studies have found that the medications, prescribed within the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists standards, are safe. (Study one, study two, for example.)
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