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Appeals Court Blocks Arizona Abortion Law

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that an Arizona abortion law must remain on hold while it is litigated. The law would have restricted access to medication abortions.

Under Arizona’s law, doctors would no longer be able to use a common off-label regimen for administering abortion-inducing drugs. Proponents say the intent of the regualtion is to protect women’s health.

But reproductive rights advocates said the regulation would force doctors to use an outdated protocol that they argue is less safe. It would also reduce the window by two weeks in which women in Arizona could legally take RU486.

Planned Parenthood of Arizona sued to block the law.

“If this regulation were to take effect, many women in Arizona would lose access to a safe, effective alternative to surgical abortion, preferred by nearly half of eligible women in Arizona,” said David Brown, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, which assisted on the case.

“And some women, especially poor women and women in rural areas, might completely lose access to their right to choose abortion all together,” Brown said.

The judges seemed convinced that the law might ultimately prove unconstitutional because it restricts women’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

“Plaintiffs have introduced uncontroverted evidence that the Arizona law substantially burdens women’s access to abortion services,” wrote Judge William Fletcher in the unanimous opinion. “And Arizona has introduced no evidence that the law advances in any way its interest in women’s health.”

In a statement, Attorney General Tom Horne called the decision “disappointing.” He is considering whether to appeal.

Jude Joffe-Block was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2017.