Going into effect on April 1, 2014, is a new law that would prohibit abortion providers from using RU-486, the abortion drug, after seven weeks. Planned Parenthood, on behalf of the state’s abortion providers, is suing Arizona in an attempt to repeal the law. Planned Parenthood in their legal statement said that the new law infringes on a woman’s constitutional right to choose an abortion. They also make the claim that it will add an undue burden to the women who choose to take the pill because the law requires abortionists follow Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) guideline, which means women who choose RU-486, will be required to make two trips to the abortion clinic to receive the medication.
Currently abortion clinics offer the abortion drug past the FDA’s recommended seven weeks. The new law would make using RU-486 after seven weeks illegal. Opponents to the law say that abortion providers regularly offer the pill to women after the seven week break off point. Most providers in the state of Arizona offer it up to nine weeks. Furthermore, they add that under the new law patients will receive a higher dosage of medication then they need, and they will have to make more trips to the clinic. Current practice involves one trip to the clinic for a pill and then a follow-up pill at home.
Arizona passed the law in 2012 which included a provision that abortions had to take place prior to 20 weeks. That part of the law was struck down by the federal courts in a ruling that the Supreme Court let stand according to the Arizona Daily Star. Opponents of the new law say that the FDA standards on which the law is based were written 14 years ago and are outdated; however they maintain that it is up to the drug manufacturer to make the FDA change their standards. Planned Parenthood sees suing Arizona as the only way to make sure abortion providers are still able to provide RU-486 abortions.
Bryan Howard, the president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, said that the main concern is that abortion providers will no longer be following the guidelines set out by women’s health experts. Instead, he claims, they will be following outdated FDA guidelines that could be harmful to women. Howard goes on to make the claim that the law also requires doctors to practice medicine in a way other than how “women’s health experts” recommend, and that these regulations could deprive Arizona women of access to medication abortion altogether.
Cathi Herrod, President of The Center for Arizona Policy, which lobbied for the rule, said that medicating without following FDA protocol was dangerous. She went on to say that because Planned Parenthood cannot win via public opinion, their only recourse is to use the courts to enforce their will and bail out the abortion industry.
Currently the Arizona legislature is considering another bill. This bill is for surprise inspections of abortion clinics. On Tuesday, the State House of Representatives passed a measure that would allow state health department officials to conduct surprise inspections of the clinics. It has moved to the State Senate where the Republican majority it is believed will pass it. Democrats fear that this bill would give state officials the ability to harass abortion clinics, while Republicans say that the bill will ensure that abortion providers are following state and federal guidelines. It is not known at this time if this bill passes whether Planned Parenthoood or abortion providers will be suing Arizona to make sure that it does not go into effect.
By Rachel Woodruff