Stay granted for new Arizona abortion drug rules

Stay granted for new Arizona abortion drug rules

Credit: Getty Images

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 17: The abortion drug Mifepristone, also known as RU486, is pictured in an abortion clinic February 17, 2006 in Auckland, New Zealand. The drug, which has been available in New Zealand for four years and is used in many countries around the world, is expected to be available to Australian women within a year after parliament yesterday approved a bill which transfers regulatory control of the drug to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, a government body of scientists and doctors that regulates all other drugs in Australia. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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by Astrid Galvan, Associated Press

azfamily.com

Posted on April 2, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 4 at 1:00 PM

PHOENIX (AP) -- The nation's most stringent restrictions on the use of abortion drugs are now temporarily on hold one day after going into effect in Arizona.

A federal appeals court has granted a temporary stay on new regulations that took effect Tuesday.

The ruling came in response to an appeal by Planned Parenthood Arizona and other groups after a federal judge in Tucson refused to temporarily block the rules.

The abortion rules were released in January by the Arizona Department of Health Services. They ban women from taking the most common abortion-inducing drug - RU-486 - after the seventh week of pregnancy. Women had been allowed to take the abortion pill through nine weeks of pregnancy. The rules also require that the drug be administered only at the FDA-approved dosage no later than seven weeks into a pregnancy instead of nine weeks, and that both doses be taken at the clinic. The usual dose is lower and now usually taken at home, decreasing the cost and chance of complications.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals blocked the rules for now on Wednesday, saying the court needs more time to consider a full briefing on the request for the emergency stay.

The Arizona rules require RU-486 to be used under the Food and Drug Administration drug label approved in 2000, which has a much higher dosage. That dosage is no longer routinely followed because doctors have found much lower dosages are just as effective when combined with a second drug.

Planned Parenthood Arizona estimates that 800 women would have had to get surgical abortions in 2012 if the rules were in effect then. An attorney for the organization also told the judge last week that the new rules could force its Flagstaff abortion clinic to suspend operations. However, a spokeswoman has since said that the group is evaluating how it will proceed and operations at the Flagstaff clinic will continue.

The organization also says the rules, approved by the Arizona State Legislature in 2012, severely infringe on a woman's ability to have an abortion.

In denying the organization the temporary block on Monday, U.S. District Judge David C. Bury acknowledged that the new rules will make it more difficult for some women in Arizona, especially those in the northern part of the state, to get abortions as they have to travel farther and make more trips to clinics. But he said they aren't obstacles big enough to show that the rules should be blocked.

But the group behind the legislation, the Center for Arizona Policy, says the regulations only protect women, and that other courts of appeals have upheld similar rules.

"The truth is Arizona women deserve better. The State Legislature passed this law to protect the health and safety of women, and ensure that this dangerous medication is distributed only as the FDA approved," Center for Arizona Policy president Cathi Herrod said.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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