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Arizona Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Anti-Abortion Case

January 28th, 2015

Abortion supporters in Arizona celebrated recently when the Supreme Court of Arizona let a lower court decision stand that blocks Arizona’s law against an abortion-inducing medication.  On December 15, 2014, the Supreme Court of Arizona refused to hear a case involving an anti-abortion drug law. The Universal Life Church takes an interest in any law or court decision that may affect another’s constitutional rights.

Law at Issue

In 2012, the Arizona legislature passed a law (ARS 36-449.03E(6)) in accordance with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that banned the use of an anti-abortion drug past the seventh week of pregnancy and placed a restriction on where and by whom the drug can be administered.  The law involves the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone, also known as RU-486.  The law is based off a 2000 FDA regulation requiring the drug to be administered in a licensed doctor’s office or clinic by a physician.  The law restricts nurses or other staff from administering the drug.  The law also shortened the time a woman has to take the medication from the ninth week of pregnancy down to the seventh week of pregnancy.  The legislature argues that the law protects woman from “potential deadly off-label use of abortion-inducing drugs.”

6026456884_cc691bb35dCase History

In April of 2014, in Isaacson v. Horne, plaintiffs sought an injunction against the law arguing that the law was unconstitutionally vague, violates women’s fundamental rights to abortion and bodily integrity, and violates the equal protection clause.  The judge from the United State District Court for the District of Arizona denied the injunction and upheld the law.  In response, Planned Parenthood and the Tucson Women’s Center filed an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  In Planned Parenthood v. Humble, the Ninth Circuit Court suspended the Arizona law ruling that the law placed an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion.  The Appellate Court weighed the extent of the burden against the strength of Arizona’s justification in the context of the statute.  The Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the case means the injunction placed on the Arizona law will stand.

Implications of the Decision

The injunction against the Arizona law will prevent women from unnecessary surgical abortions.  Under the Arizona law, abortion clinics were threatened with possible closure, since a large portion of many abortion clinics’ business is nonsurgical abortion services.  If clinics closed, this would place another burden on women trying to receive an abortion.

North Dakota, Ohio, and Texas have similar laws to the Arizona law in effect.  The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a similar law with similar restrictions.

The Supreme Court of Arizona’s decision to not hear the case insures for now that the Arizona law will have no effect on women’s right to an abortion.  Previous delivery methods of the abortion-inducing drug will continue and women will have to the ninth week of the pregnancy to take the drug.

Photo Credit: World Can’t Wait via Compfight cc

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