Appeals Court Keeps Arizona Abortion Drug Restrictions On Hold

April 08, 2014

A federal appeals court is keeping regulations on hold that would have restricted medication abortions in Arizona beginning April 1. That means women in the state can continue taking the abortion drug RU-486 until their ninth week of pregnancy - for now.

Planned Parenthood Arizona and a Tucson clinic sued last month to prevent the state health department from implementing new regulations that would have restricted use of the abortion drug beginning on April 1.

The new rules are the result of a law passed by the legislature. They require doctors to follow the Food and Drug Administration’s label on the drug. That would prevent women from taking the medication beyond the seventh week of pregnancy, even though medical organizations have endorsed its use up until the ninth week of pregnancy.

A lower court decided the new regulations could take effect on April 1. But lawyers for the plaintiffs appealed the lower court’s decision and the regulations were put on hold as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals considered the appeal.

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel from the federal appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision, and opted to keep the regulations on hold while the case is appealed.

The order by the Ninth Circuit three-judge panel said the plaintiffs’ “patients will likely suffer irreparable harm” without an injunction, “because they will immediately lose access to a common abortion procedure as soon as the law takes effect.”