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Advocates, opponents speak out on appealed abortion bill

PHOENIX — Planned Parenthood – Arizona filed an appeal Tuesday after a federal judge refused to temporarily block the nation’s most stringent restrictions on the use of abortion drugs.

The organization’s motion with the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals comes the same day Arizona’s landmark regulations took effect.

U.S. District Judge David C. Bury had considered temporarily blocking the new
rules with an injunction Monday, but he decided against such action just hours
before the regulations went into effect.

“The judge’s ruling simply means that Planned Parenthood has to restrict usage of the drugs to only the first 49 days of the pregnancy,” said Cathi Herrod, the head of the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative group.

The previous restriction was nine weeks.

Planned Parenthood said the laws are unconstitutional and infringe on a woman’s ability to have an abortion.

“This makes medication abortion off limits for women in the eighth and ninth weeks of pregnancy and requires them to have surgical abortions,” said Bryan Howard, head of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. “It requires yet another visit in the abortion health care process, and it requires patients to take a higher dose of one medication and a lower dose of another medication than any medical professional today would recommend. It is not the best healthcare.”

Howard said that even though the judge ruled against pro-choice supporters, he sided with them in some ways.

“The judge, in his ruling, acknowledged that the way health care providers administer medication abortion today is, indeed, preferable,” Howard said. “But that was not enough reason to prevent the legislature from requiring women to use the out of date protocol.”

Herrod, whose group is against abortion, said that Tuesday’s ruling is a victory.

“The judge’s ruling is a good thing for Arizona women,” she said. “When Planned Parenthood loses, women win. The abortion pill has been found to bring significant health risks to women.”

With Tuesday’s appeal, Herrod does not believe that the fight over those new rules is over.

“The next likely step will be a full hearing on the bill’s merits before the judge, probably in the fall,” she said.

Herrod is calling on Planned Parenthood to drop its lawsuit. Howard said that’s not going to happen.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.