Arizona Takes 1 Step Forward and 2 Steps Back on Abortion Access

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
May 6, 2016 9:15 am

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PHOENIX — Facing legal challenges from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups, the Arizona Legislature passed a bill that would repeal two medically unsupported restrictions on medication abortion. The move comes just one day after the legislature approved a bill designed to block low-income women’s access to healthcare — including birth control, prenatal care or labor and delivery services — by threatening to remove abortion providers from the Medicaid program.

“These medication abortion laws force doctors to treat their patients based on political ideology rather than science and medical judgment,” said Andrew Beck, staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “The repeal is good news, but it shouldn’t take lawsuit after lawsuit for Arizona politicians to let doctors be doctors and to do the right thing by women and families.”

If signed into law, the repeal would lift two restrictions on medication abortion. The ACLU, the ACLU of Arizona, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights challenged the restrictions requiring doctors to mislead women by telling them that it may be possible to reverse a medication abortion, a statement that is opposed by leading medical organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The second restriction requires doctors to utilize an outdated protocol for women seeking medication abortion that is inconsistent with both modern medical practice and the federal Food and Drug Administration’s guidance.

“Arizonans deserve elected officials who will work to ensure that we all have access to high quality medical care, not politicians who will stand in our way,” said Will Gaona, policy director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Arizona politicians have sunk to new depths in their quest to show just how anti-abortion they are, this time passing a bill designed to cut off a low-income woman’s access to birth control and pre-natal and maternity care.”

While the repeal of the medication abortion restrictions will be a victory for women, the ACLU said, the Legislature’s Medicaid restrictions are designed to block doctors and health care organizations from providing care to any patients who use Medicaid if the doctor or organization also provides abortions. The federal government and numerous courts have repeatedly made clear that such action is unlawful.

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