Supreme Court Refuses To Enforce Arizona Medical Abortion Law

By Steve Shadley
Published: Monday, December 15, 2014 - 5:45pm
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The U.S. Supreme Court won’t allow Arizona to enforce a state law that restricts medical abortions. The appeal involves a drug called RU-486 that induces abortions in the early stages of pregnancy.

Without comment, the Supreme Court Justices have left in place a lower court decision that blocks a 2012 Arizona law regulating where and how women can take the abortion drug. It won’t allow a woman to take the abortion pill after seven weeks of pregnancy. Supporters of the state law say it's intended to protect a woman’s health. But, opponents say that’s not true.

“This is actually about placing barriers between women and health care they’re legally entitled to,” said Jodi Liggett, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Arizona.

Planned Parenthood is among abortion providers that challenged Arizona’s abortion rules in federal court. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals prevented the state from putting them in place during the legal challenge. To date, the law has not been enforced. Liggett said the Supreme Court made the right decision Monday.

"So what all this means is that politicians should not be practicing medicine," she said. "Doctors should be practicing medicine and we think that’s ultimately how the case will be decided."

Ligget said Arizona’s law relies on 14-year-old FDA approved guidelines for taking RU-486 and it requires women to take the drug at a certified medical clinic. She said those guidelines require frequent trips to the doctor.

“The original FDA labelling requires more visits and that of course for women in rural areas of the state can be particularly problematic if they have to travel hundreds of miles,” Liggett said.

Cathi Herrod of the anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy said the Supreme Court Justices got it wrong. She said the justices have allowed other states to set standards and pass abortion laws in an attempt to protect a woman’s health.

"It’s frustrating that the Supreme Court would not take this case," Herrod said. "But, the case should certainly continue to be litigated, this is not the end of the road."

Similar medical abortion laws are in effect in North Dakota, Ohio and Texas. The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down the restrictions in that state. 




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