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Planned Parenthood AZ CEO: Texas ruling will 'set up a potential domino effect'

Both drug and surgical abortions before 15 weeks of pregnancy are still legal in Arizona, despite a Texas judge’s ruling to overturn the FDA’s approval of the pill mifepristone. Planned Parenthood Arizona’s President and CEO Brittany Fonteno called the decision outrageous government overreach.

“We knew that anti-abortion activists and politicians would not stop at overturning Roe,” Fonteno said, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

According to Fonteno, the decision’s impact goes beyond just abortion care.

“This will absolutely set up a potential domino effect, and really make it so that no medication would be safe,” Fonteno said. “Every person in the country should be shaking right now because of the potential impact that this could have to our own medical decisions and care.”

Dr. Jill Gibson is Planned Parenthood Arizona’s medical director.

“We didn’t have a crystal ball so we couldn’t tell patients exactly when this ruling might come out,” Gibson said. “But we’ve been preparing for it and trying to help our patients understand and navigate these uncharted waters.”

Gibson said that for some patients, a medication abortion is their safest option, and that there are a variety of reasons they may choose one.

“I’m thinking of a patient that I cared for recently whose only option to avoid a pregnancy that she couldn’t continue was to actually disguise her abortion by pill as a miscarriage, so that her abusive partner didn’t harm her or forbid her from controlling her own body,” Gibson said.

Fonteno said that overall, mifepristone is safe for patient use.

“Mifepristone has been approved by the FDA for more than 22 years,” she said. “And it has proven to be safe and effective for abortion care. It has a safety record of more than 99%, making it safer than many common medications like Tylenol and Viagra.”

While litigation related to the decision plays out, Planned Parenthood will continue providing a full range of reproductive care in Arizona. Including abortions using mifepristone.

“Our health center doors remain open,” Fonteno said. “And we will continue to provide a full range of lawful sexual and reproductive healthcare, including medication abortion using mifepristone.”

Fonteno said Planned Parenthood Arizona has been working with Governor Katie Hobbs’ administration to encourage her to veto in-state legislative efforts to restrict access to abortion care.

Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.