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Appeals court halts enforcement of Arizona abortion drug curbs

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Author Topic: Appeals court halts enforcement of Arizona abortion drug curbs  (Read 295 times)
Psalm 51:17
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« on: April 04, 2014, 12:41:35 pm »

Appeals court halts enforcement of Arizona abortion drug curbs
4/2/14
http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/04/02/usa-abortion-arizona-idinl1n0mu1z120140402

(Reuters) - A federal appeals court sided with abortion rights advocates on Tuesday in temporarily blocking Arizona from enforcing regulations that restrict access to abortion-inducing drugs by prohibiting off-label uses.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction stopping enforcement of the statute while opponents, including Planned Parenthood, sought to overturn it in court.

The FDA has approved RU-486, the so-called "abortion pill," for use within seven weeks' gestation. Doctors who have prescribed it later than that have made an off-label use that is not allowed under the Arizona rules.

At issue in this case is a physician's discretion to go "off-label" and use the drug as the doctor believes best in the circumstances.

Planned Parenthood and the Tucson Women's Center sued to overturn the rules and sought a temporary restraining order to stop them from going into effect while the lawsuit was being litigated.

They argued that the regulations could force women to travel to other states or prevent them from getting the procedure altogether.

"This means that women in Arizona will continue to have access to a safe, legal method of abortion for now. We hope the court will ultimately rule to protect the health and safety of women," Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Cecile Richards said after the 9th Circuit's ruling.

"If implemented, these misguided restrictions would force doctors to provide inferior, outdated, and less effective care to their patients - rather than providing care based on their expertise and 13 years of research in the medical field," Richards said.

The stay by the 9th Circuit comes after a federal judge in Arizona had refused earlier this week to block implementation of the rules.

A spokeswoman for the anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy earlier has called that judge's decision denying a stay a "victory for women." Representatives for the center could not be reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

The rules were part of a package of items included in legislation signed into law by Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer in 2012, in what has been a continuing effort to seek ways to limit abortions in the southwestern state.

A provision at the heart of the law, banning abortions from 20 weeks gestation except in medical emergencies, was struck down last year by a federal court, but the drug provision remains intact.

In Arizona, the latest figures show that 32 percent of the 13,340 abortions performed in 2012 were non-surgical - all but a small percentage using RU-486, or mifepristone.
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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2014, 08:16:21 am »

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=318552025
Arizona Abortion Restrictions To Remain Blocked
6/3/14

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The nation's strictest rules on the use of abortion drugs are likely to be struck down and will continue to be blocked while a lawsuit against them plays out, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Arizona regulations appear to be an unconstitutional "undue burden on a woman's right to abortion" and kept in place its injunction on them. The decision reverses a lower court ruling that found the rules legal.

Planned Parenthood Arizona and the Tucson Women's Center are challenging the regulations, which would ban women from taking the most common abortion-inducing drug — RU-486 — after the seventh week of pregnancy. Women had been allowed to take the abortion pill through nine weeks of pregnancy.

The rules also require that the drug be administered only at the FDA-approved dosage and that both doses be taken at a clinic. The usual dosage is lower, and it's normally taken at home, decreasing the cost and chance of complications.

The 9th Circuit rejected Arizona's arguments that the new restrictions were passed to protect women's health and designed to comply with FDA-approved use.

Judge William Fletcher, writing for the 9th Circuit panel, said the FDA "encourages" so-called off-label use of RU-486, formally mifepristone, which is most often administered in lower doses than the approved label directs.

"Arizona has presented no evidence whatsoever that the law furthers any interest in women's health," Fletcher wrote.

Andrew Wilder, spokeswoman for Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, said the state intends to keep fighting to get the law implemented. Brewer is a staunch opponent of abortion.

"The state will continue to litigate the case in District Court," Wilder said.

Planned Parenthood Arizona says the rules would force hundreds of women to undergo a surgical abortion while also placing a financial burden on women who live far from an abortion clinic. Planned Parenthood says the higher dose also exposes women to unnecessary side effects.

But Arizona's attorneys say the rules are meant to protect women's health by mandating that drugs be used according to FDA-approved protocol. They say women will still have access to alternative types of abortions in Arizona.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which argued the case for the abortion providers, hailed the ruling.

"This law was never more than another backdoor attempt to restrict women's constitutional right to decide for themselves whether to end a pregnancy, and to cut off access to health care options recommended by the doctors women trust and rely on," Nancy Northup, the center's president and CEO, said in a statement.

The Legislature approved the rules in 2012, and Brewer signed them into law.

A federal judge in Tucson, where the case against them is being heard, declined to temporarily block the rules a day before they were to take effect in April. U.S. District Judge David C. Bury said in his ruling that although the new rules will make it more difficult for some women, they aren't obstacles big enough to show they should be blocked.

The 9th Circuit ordered Bury to reverse his ruling and block the rules while considering Planned Parenthood's lawsuit.

The abortion drug restriction bill was one of many pushed in recent years by the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative group. Two of its abortion restriction laws — a ban on Medicaid money for any of Planned Parenthood's nonabortion services and a ban on abortion after 20 weeks — previously were blocked by federal courts.

Josh Kredit, legal counsel for the group, called the ruling "just another example that the 9th Circuit is out of step with other courts." Appeals courts in two other federal circuits — the fifth and sixth — have upheld similar restrictions, he said.

"The law will not be in effect, but we will live to fight another day and hopefully it will be appealed to the Supreme Court," Kredit said.

David Brown, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, acknowledged that federal courts have split on the issue, but said state courts have blocked laws in two states, making it 3 to 2 against medication abortion restrictions.
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