The past few years have seen an unprecedented number of attacks on women’s access to reproductive health services, but last week the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Arizona’s restrictions on medical abortion, a safe alternative to early surgical abortion.
These regulations, the harshest in the country, require that medication abortions be administered in strict adherence to FDA guidelines that are now over a decade out of date. Medical practice has changed significantly since those guidelines were written; current scientific consensus has clearly established that a lower dose of the medication is equally effective, has fewer side effects, and is cheaper.
While anti-choice regulations often masquerade as protecting women’s health, this bill clearly does the opposite by making it harder for women to access services and makes the medical abortion procedure less safe.
Furthermore, under these restrictions, many Arizona women would have to travel hundreds of miles to access abortion services.
Thankfully, judges have now recognized this law for what it is: an unconstitutional attack on women’s rights and women’s health.
This is a significant victory, as similar regulations have been passed in other states. While in Oklahoma and North Dakota, these burdensome and medically unnecessary restrictions have been blocked, similar provisions in Ohio and Texas have been upheld in federal courts.
The legal battle over abortion access will continue, and though women in Arizona’s access to medical abortions have been protected for the moment, the defendants hope to appeal this ruling in the Supreme Court.