Planned Parenthood Won't Challenge Court Ruling on Abortion Laws; New Regulations Go Into Effect Today

If you live in a rural part of Arizona and want to get an abortion, best of luck to you -- new abortion laws that pro-choice advocates say will make it extremely difficult for people in the boonies to get an abortion go into effect today, compliments of the Arizona state Legislature and Governor Jan Brewer.

Planned Parenthood, which said last month it would continue to fight an August 11, opinion issued by the Arizona Court of Appeals upholding laws passed in 2009, has decided against further litigation regarding those laws.

The organization will continue to challenge a law passed this year that bans nurse practitioners from dispensing abortion pills.

"Given the current dire economic environment so many of our patients face, paired with a legislature that has already reduced health care access, our organization decided it was best to focus all of our energies on meeting women's health care needs today," Planned Parenthood Arizona CEO Bryan Howard says. "Now, more than ever, Arizona women and families need accessible, affordable birth control and other preventive services so they are
not victimized by these politically motivated barriers."

The following is a list of the new laws that went into effect today:

- Health care professionals will now be permitted to deny women access to health care, including birth control at the pharmacy and emergency contraception in the ER, if the health care professional objects to the requested care based on his or her personal beliefs.

- Women will be required to have an in-person appointment with a physician to listen to a state mandated script of information 24 hours before an abortion appointment, regardless of the distance women will have to travel for the 15 minute meeting.

- Trained, experienced nurse practitioners are banned from providing early surgical abortion. This is in addition to a 2011 ban on nurse practitioners dispensing abortion-by-pill (Planned Parenthood continues to challenge this restriction in a separate lawsuit).

- Parent or guardian signatures on consent forms for abortion patients under 18 years old will now have to be notarized at a bank or business that offers notarization services.

Under the new abortion-by-pill law, stiffer regulations are placed on the procedure 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

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.

Because of the new laws, Planned Parenthood was forced to stop providing abortions at six of its Arizona locations.

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.