Window for Medicated Abortions to Be Shortened Under Arizona Health Regulations

Women's-health experts have issued guidelines that allow women to chose the option of a medicated abortion at up to nine weeks of pregnancy, but Arizona doctors won't be able to follow the protocol anymore.

The Arizona Department of Health Services released new rules to comply with House Bill 2036, signed by the governor in 2012. That law calls for ADHS to make various rules, including that doctors have to prescribe the abortion-inducing medications in compliance with the FDA's protocol. The FDA's protocol says these medications can be used up to seven weeks of pregnancy -- narrowing the window recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

See also:
-No Supreme Court Review of Decision on 20-Week Abortion Ban

Although some other states have such a regulation, the change in Arizona may have gotten lost in all the noise about HB 2036. One of the most talked-about provisions in that law banned all abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy, which a federal appeals court found unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear the case.

Bryan Howard, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, blasted the new change on medicated abortions, scheduled to take effect on April 1:

"Now the Arizona Department of Health Services, under the direction of Governor Jan Brewer, is requiring physicians to use an inferior, out-of-date method of care for medication abortion instead of the guidelines supported by the most trusted professional and scientific organizations, such as the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In addition to forcing doctors in Arizona to administer medication abortion in a way that goes against the research-driven guidelines by experts in women's health, these regulations would deprive many women of the option of medication abortion by banning it after seven weeks of pregnancy. The decision to end a pregnancy is personal and complex, but ultimately one that a woman must make, in consultation with her family, her faith, and her healthcare provider."
The alternative methods for using these medications, and not in line with the FDA's protocol, have been found to have "efficacy equal or superior to the FDA-approved regimen." Plus, it can be used for an additional two weeks, unlike under the FDA guidelines.

Medical professionals are also fighting a very similar provision in Texas' recently passed abortion bill, which is also facing court battles.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley