TUCSON, Ariz. — 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
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
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
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.