The controversial regulations would require any
medicine used to induce an abortion to be administered strictly
according to protocols issued by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration and subject to instructions on the label.
The Arizona rules, which would go into effect on April 1, relate to
the drug RU-486, also known as Mifepristone. The FDA in 2000
approved it for use within seven weeks of a pregnancy, but doctors
in many parts of the country have begun using a new protocol that
simplifies the use of the drug for women.
They prescribe the drug "off-label," administering it to women in
later stages of pregnancy and allowing some to take a second part of
the treatment at home.
Four states have attempted to limit off-label use. Federal courts
have upheld similar laws in Ohio and Texas, but state courts in
Oklahoma and North Dakota have rejected such measures, according to
Planned Parenthood Arizona.
Planned Parenthood and a private clinic have sued the state over the
proposed rules and are seeking an injunction before they go into
U.S. District Judge David C. Bury at a court hearing in Tucson heard
arguments from both sides over the rules, which were introduced by
Arizona officials in January as part of a 2012 abortion-related law.
"The law is unconstitutionally vague," Alice Clapman, an attorney
with Planned Parenthood, told the court.
The rules could "keep some women from obtaining an abortion altogether," she argued.
The groups suing to challenge the rules argue new protocols used in
many parts of the country at physicians' discretion are simpler and
less expensive, but offer equal treatment and have been used safely
for more than 700,000 women.
[to top of second column]
A return to the FDA's protocol requires a second visit to the
abortion provider, creating an undue burden for women, especially in
northern Arizona where they may have to travel hundreds of miles to
receive a surgical abortion, the groups challenging the rules argue.
Michael Tyron, an attorney for the state, countered that the law
"doesn't ban abortions, it regulates them."
"At most, these are inconveniences," he said in court. "We all go
through inconveniences, but this law doesn't burden women."
Bury did not immediately rule on the request to block the rules from
taking effect next week.
"It's interesting to note that the abortion industry has not
petitioned the Food and Drug administration to change its protocol,"
said Cathi Herrod, president of the conservative lobbying group
Center for Arizona Policy. "If Planned Parenthood's protocol is so
wonderful, then why haven't they asked the FDA to change it?"
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis)
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