Court Puts Arizona Abortion Restrictions on Hold, for Now

Apr 2, 2014

A federal appeals Wednesday court put Arizona’s new abortion law on hold, at least for the time being. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

Attorney General Tom Horne

In a brief order, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked enforcement of the law, which governs how medication abortions can be performed. The judges said they want to hear more about the issue, giving the state through the end of the week to defend the law.

In the interim, the order most immediately means that doctors in Arizona can still use RU-486 to induce abortions through the ninth week of pregnancy. The law on hold requires doctors to follow protocols for the drug issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And, those protocols bar its use to terminate a pregnancy after the seventh week, making a surgical abortion the only legal option beyond that. Challengers say that’s an unreasonable restriction on the right of women to terminate a pregnancy. But, Attorney General Tom Horne said the law is legally defensible.

“I think it’s reasonable that the FDA protocol should be followed. And following that protocol does not deny any woman an abortion who would otherwise be entitled to one. It simply says that after the seventh week it needs to be surgical rather than a drug,” Horne said.

But, attorney David Brown of the Center for Reproductive Rights said that restriction cannot stand because there there’s nothing in the record showing the law protects the health of pregnant woman. The stay remains in place through at least Monday morning.