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Suit filed to block new Arizona abortion regulations

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TUCSON -- Abortion providers have filed suit against Arizona to block a new rule that limits the use of medications to induce abortions.

The rule is part of state-mandated abortion regulations that are scheduled to take effect April 1.

On Wednesday, Planned Parenthood of Arizona and the Tucson’s Women’s Center announced they had filed a lawsuit challenging the new rule. The groups claim the rule is unconstitutional.

Restrictions on similar medication-induced abortions have been enacted in other states and made their way through the courts with mixed results. Courts have ruled in favor of similar provisions in Ohio and Texas, while judges in Oklahoma and North Dakota have struck down such measures.

In Arizona, a 2012 law states that when an abortion doctor performs a medication abortion, the doctor must follow the Food and Drug Administration’s instructions provided on the drug label.

Arizona legislators said the requirement would protect women’s health. The Center for Arizona Policy, which lobbied heavily for the rule, called the medication procedure “dangerous” outside of FDA protocol.

“It is a shame that when Planned Parenthood can’t win public opinion, they try to use the courts to impose their will and bail out their abortion business,” said Cathi Herrod, the center’s president.

Some women's health experts counter that the FDA guidelines were written 14 years ago and are outdated. They say that since then a new regimen has been developed that is more effective, requires less medication, has fewer side effects, is less costly for the patients and requires fewer trips to healthcare providers.

“In addition to forcing doctors in Arizona to practice medicine in a way that goes against the research-driven guidelines by experts in women’s health, this regulation could deprive Arizona women of access to medication abortion altogether,” said Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

The regulation is part of a broader law concerning abortion. Another portion of the law, which banned abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy, has already been overturned in federal court. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

The Arizona Department of Health Services did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, the Legislature is considering a bill that would require surprise inspections of abortions clinics.

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cindy.carcamo@latimes.com

Twitter: @thecindycarcamo

 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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