TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court could have the ultimate say on whether Arizona’s new abortion-medication restrictions – considered the most stringent in the nation, but put on hold by a federal appeals court – should take effect.
State attorneys say they will ask the Supreme Court to overturn a temporary stay on the rules that regulate where and how women can take drugs that induce abortion. The rules also block the use of the abortion medication after the seventh week of pregnancy instead of the ninth.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April issued an injunction on the rules while the case against them plays out in federal court in Tucson. But that case will now be on hold while Arizona asks the Supreme Court to remove the stay.
Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said the move by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne was politically motivated and a waste of taxpayer dollars. “If you believe this is in the interest of the women of Arizona, well then go back to Tucson and make that case,” Howard said.
A federal judge in Tucson, where the case is being heard, initially denied Planned Parenthood its request for an injunction. His ruling was overturned by the appeals court.
Horne spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham declined to comment because of the pending litigation.
But Horne has argued that Planned Parenthood did not have enough evidence to show the restrictions were detrimental. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not agree with Horne, instead saying that women would likely suffer irreparable harm if the rules were allowed to take effect. Horne has also said the organization cannot prove that regulations would place an undue burden on women’s right to abortion.
The rules 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. They also require the drug be administered only at the Food and Drug Administration-approved dosage and that both doses be taken at a clinic.
The dosage on the label, which was approved over a decade ago, is no longer routinely followed because doctors have found much lower dosages are just as effective when combined with a second drug, and women now usually take the second dose at home, avoiding what is often a long trip to a clinic.
Planned Parenthood Arizona has said that about 800 women would have had to get surgical abortions in 2012 if the rules were in effect then.
The rules, approved by the Arizona State Legislature in 2012, severely infringe on a woman’s ability to have an abortion, the organization says. Arizona argues that it protects their health by mandating a federally approved protocol.
In July 21 court filing, attorneys for Arizona argued that it’s likely the nation’s top court will overturn the appellate court’s stay on the rules and that it makes more sense to go there before resuming trial.
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