Arizona Becomes Abortion Battleground

ArizonaArizona is making changes to some rules that involve abortion, and these changes are pleasing opponents of abortion.  Two major changes are occurring in regards to abortion drugs and inspections of abortion clinics.  As these changes are implemented, Arizona is becoming an abortion battleground.

These changes are coming about because of a bill passed by Arizona legislature in 2012.  It does not come as a surprise that the state of Arizona is considered anti-abortion; last year a federal appeals court struck down a 2012 Arizona law that banned abortions after 20 weeks gestation.  The law was struck down as being unconstitutional.

The first change involves inspections of health facilities.  This measure has not yet been signed into law, and must still be approved by the state Senate.  If the bill does become a law, it will allow for surprise inspections at any of Arizona’s abortion clinics. Arizona has nine abortion clinics.  Currently, a judge must issue an administrative warrant for an inspection to take place.  Warrants are not necessary to inspect other medical clinics.

The bill is sponsored by Debbie Lesko, republican representative, who said, “This is not a pro-life versus pro-choice issue.  This is about the healthiness of a facility where a woman goes to get a procedure done.”

Along with surprise inspections there is another change set to start April 1 that is causing Arizona to become an abortion battleground.  A lawsuit has been filed by two women’s healthcare providers that challenges the new rules regarding RU-486.

RU-486, also known as the abortion pill, is approved by the FDA as safe to use within seven weeks gestation.  Doctors have prescribed this drug, going off-label, for women past seven weeks up to nine weeks gestation who want to terminate pregnancy.  Doctors have the ability to use their discretion when prescribing this drug in situations that they deem appropriate.

Under these new rules in Arizona, doctors would no longer have that ability, but must stick to the FDA approved dosage.  In addition to sticking with the seven week limit, the drug will have to be administered at a clinic.  Currently the drug is taken at home.  Taking the drug at home decreases the cost.

Planned Parenthood Arizona President, Bryan Howard, figured that this new law would have caused 800 women to have surgical abortions rather than using RU-486 because of the seven week limit.  Howard also called the law dangerous, and stated that Planned Parenthood would fight it with everything they had.  Howard also said that the purpose behind the bill was to restrict access to abortions.

Senator Kimberly Yee disagrees.  Yee stated that she felt Planned Parenthood was trying to get around the FDA protocol, and called it irresponsible because it involves the health and safety of women.

This law has the capability of making a major impact on abortion in Arizona.  In 2012, 32 percent of the abortions performed in Arizona were non-surgical, with the majority of those using RU-486.  As the lawsuit is debated by pro-choice and pro-life advocates, Arizona is becoming a battleground for abortion issues.

By Ashley Campbell


ABC News
Chicago Tribune

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