PLANNED PARENTHOOD ADVOCATES OF ARIZONA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“We will continue to fight for Arizona women,” says Planned Parenthood
Phoenix, AZ —Today, a U. S. District Court in Tucson ruled that a new unconstitutional law and regulation may take effect tomorrow, which will severely restrict access to medication abortion, an extremely safe method of early abortion. While Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary injunction was denied, we are confident in the merits of our case and hope the courts will ultimately rule to protect the health and safety of Arizona women.
Planned Parenthood argued that Arizona women, similar to women in almost every other state across the country, have the right to access the best, most effective and safest health care available. In his 14-page decision, Judge David Bury acknowledged Planned Parenthood’s evidence that the way medication abortion is provided today results in fewer complications, is preferable to that approved when the medication was introduced in the U.S. approximately 13 years ago, and is endorsed by national medical associations.
In fact, the judge did not disagree with any of Planned Parenthood’s assertions about the safety and superiority of evidence-based protocol for medication abortion or that the restrictions that he authorized may ultimately burden women in the form of extra travel and costs.
However, in balancing the interests of women’s health and the power of legislators, the judge sided with legislators.
“It is appalling that politicians are overriding doctors’ ability to provide the highest quality medical care for women in Arizona. In fact, they are dictating to physicians how to provide care, rather than allowing doctors to follow the best, most up-to-date practices. And, the court agreed that this is precisely what Arizona politicians are allowed to do. Lawmakers have the ability to make laws, even if they harm women,” says Bryan Howard, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.
“Arizona women are suffering at the hands of extreme and out-of-touch politicians. It is time for new leadership, to keep dangerous legislation from passing in the first place,” Howard adds.
While Planned Parenthood Arizona considers its next steps, the organization continues to offer surgical abortions in addition to lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, and other preventive health care. And, the organization continues to do its best to meet the health care needs of individual patients.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona is the political arm of Planned Parenthood Arizona. It is a non-partisan membership organization whose purpose is to protect and promote sexual and reproductive health and rights in Arizona by educating voters, public officials and candidates for public office.
The new restrictions on medication abortion are related to House Bill 2036, a 2012 package of restrictions on safe, legal abortion that also included an unconstitutional ban on abortion at 20 weeks that was struck down by federal courts. The lawsuit, Planned Parenthood Arizona et al. v. Humble, was jointly filed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Center for Reproductive Rights. The plaintiffs who filed suit on behalf of themselves and their patients are Planned Parenthood Arizona, Inc. and Tucson Women’s Clinic.
Medication abortion is an extremely safe method of early abortion that has been available to women nationwide for at least thirteen years. In fact, in Arizona, nearly half of all women decide on this method if it’s an option. The overwhelming majority of women who have chosen medication abortion have followed an evidence-based protocol different from the one that appears on the labels for the medications used. This evidence-based practice is supported by women’s health experts because it is more effective, requires less medication, has fewer side effects, and requires fewer trips to the health care provider.
In response to similar restrictions in Texas that passed into law last summer, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) wrote: “Legislators should not block advances in medical care by prohibiting physicians from incorporating the best, and most current, scientific evidence into their patient care. Requiring physicians to follow a protocol that is scientifically proven to be inferior to other regimens is an unwarranted intrusion in the physician-patient relationship. The practice of medicine should be based on the latest scientific research and medical advances.” ACOG and the Society of Family Planning reiterate this point in new guidelines on medication abortion issued In March 2014, writing that: "Based on efficacy and adverse effect profile, evidence-based protocols for medical abortion are superior to the FDA-approved regimen."
The way drugs are administered often evolves after the FDA makes its original recommendations. This is called evidence-based medicine — when after years of use the medical community often prescribes medicines for different uses and/or in different doses based on new research and their experience. This is how aspirin came to be used to prevent heart attacks.
Since 2011, Arizona has enacted numerous restrictions that interfere with a woman’s ability to make her own health care decisions, several of which have been blocked by court order, including:
· a ban on abortion at 20 weeks which the Court of Appeals declared unconstitutional and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review in January;
· an effort to exclude Planned Parenthood health centers from providing cancer screenings, birth control, and other care to their patients through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), which the Court of Appeals ruled unlawful and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review in February; and
· a dangerous law that prevents highly trained nurses from providing medication abortion, which has resulted in a drastic reduction of access to early abortion statewide