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Appeals Court to continue blocking Arizona abortion law

Jun 4, 2014

Arizona Republic

Woman, remember the Arizona legislator and Cathi Herrod think they own your womb!!!!!

Appeals Court to continue blocking Arizona abortion law

Alia Beard Rau, The Republic | 3:12 p.m. MST June 3, 2014

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against an Arizona law that restricted the use of abortion-inducing medications, contradicting rulings on similar laws from two other circuit courts and setting up a likely U.S Supreme Court battle.

Nearly half of all abortions performed in Arizona use the medication, as opposed to surgical abortions. The medication is used during the first nine weeks of pregnancy, while surgical abortions are performed later.

The Arizona Legislature in 2012 passed a law requiring abortion providers to follow the federal Food and Drug Administration requirements for the medication. The FDA requirements restrict the medication to women who are seven weeks or less pregnant and requires three separate visits to a physician. Arizona abortion providers had been using an evidence-based regimen that allowed the medication to be taken up to nine weeks of pregnancy and required two visits to a physician.

The law went into effect April 1, but the court halted it two days later until it could consider its opinion.

In an order issued Tuesday, the appeals court determined that the law causes an undue burden on a woman's right to seek an abortion and issued a preliminary injunction halting the law from being in effect until the underlying case is resolved.

"Plaintiffs have introduced uncontroverted evidence that the Arizona law substantially burdens women's access to abortion services, and Arizona has introduced no evidence that the law advances in any way its interest in women's health," the order states.

It goes on to describe the FDA regimen as "less safe, less effective."

The opinion said the cost of following the FDA regulations as opposed to the evidence-based regimen is about $200 more per procedure. There are also increased cost to the woman for transportation and possible time off work for a third doctor visit, according to the court opinion.

The American Medical Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists had filed court documents in the case opposing the law, saying it impedes physician discretion.

Planned Parenthood Arizona issued a statement celebrating the ruling.

"As a leading health care provider to women in Arizona, we want to protect women's health and safety, but these restrictions go against more than 13 years of medical research," said President Bryan Howard. "It's 2014 — it's well past time medical decisions be left between a woman and her physician."

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year ruled that a similar Texas law is legal. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a similar opinion on an Ohio law in 2012.

The conservative advocacy group the Center for Arizona Policy was behind the Arizona law.

Josh Kredit, legal counsel for the organization, said despite the Ninth Circuit opinion, there is clear evidence that is dangerous to women's health to go against the FDA protocol on this medication.

"This is a dangerous drug," he said. "It has to be used under accordance with the FDA to assure women's health."

Kredit said he expects the ruling will be appealed.

"The 5th and 6th circuits said it wasn't an undue burden, yet the 9th circuit can't seem to grasp that," he said. "The (Supreme Court) has to address this issue."


Abortion ruling: Arizona Legislature loses again

Laurie Roberts, columnist | 3:32 p.m. MST June 3, 2014

Once again, Cathi Herrod – doing business as the Arizona Legislature – lost a court fight this morning, in her (their) crusade to force women to undergo the knife if they want an abortion.

Nearly half of all women in Arizona who get abortions use abortion-inducing drugs such as RU-486 rather than resorting to surgery. So naturally, the Legislature (Herrod) decided to put a halt to that.

Our leaders in 2012 passed a law that barred women from taking RU-486 after the seventh week of pregnancy, as outlined in FDA guidelines. Doctors have long been prescribing the abortion pill through nine weeks, saying evidence has shown it to be safe.

The Arizona law was quickly put on hold after it went into effect in April. On Wednesday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals left that injunction in place, ruling that the law constitutes "an undue burden on a woman's right to an abortion."

Judge William Fletcher, writing for the 9th Circuit, said the FDA "encourages" so-called off-label use of RU-486. "Arizona," he wrote, "has presented no evidence whatsoever that the law furthers any interest in women's health."

Look for the fight to continue, as the Fifth and Six circuits have upheld similar laws in other states.

Cathi Herrod, who runs the powerful Center for Arizona Policy, issued a statement decrying today's ruling as a danger to women's health.

"It is truly tragic for our entire state, especially Arizona women,that this law will not be allowed to take effect – for now."

Because we know it's so much better for women to undergo surgery. Never mind that there's a less invasive alternative – one decided upon by a woman and her doctor but alas, not approved by Cathi Herrod.