Advocates Sue to Block Arizona Law Based on Anti-Choice ‘Junk Science’

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Advocates Sue to Block Arizona Law Based on Anti-Choice ‘Junk Science’

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The federal lawsuit claims an Arizona requirement that mandates doctors tell patients both orally and in writing that medication abortions can be reversed is unconstitutional.

Reproductive rights advocates on Thursday filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to permanently block an Arizona mandate that requires doctors to tell patients they can reverse the effects of medication-induced abortions.

The requirement, set to take effect in July, is part of SB 1318. Passed this spring, SB 1318 primarily bars state residents from purchasing any health insurance plan through the federal marketplace that includes abortion coverage. The law also has a provision that requires abortion providers to tell patients both orally and in writing they may be able to reverse the effects of a medically induced abortion.

The lawsuit was filed by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Arizona, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Squire Patton Boggs on behalf of several Arizona abortion providers who claim the requirement violates their and their patients’ constitutional rights.

No credible evidence exists to support the statement that medication abortions can be reversed, according to the complaint. Furthermore, the complaint states, SB 1318 forces providers to steer their patients toward an experimental practice that has not been shown to work or to be safe. Those providers claim the requirement violates the medical standard of care, noting that it is opposed by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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“Extreme legislators are so focused on preventing a woman from getting an abortion that they will completely ignore the medical experts and hide behind bad medicine,” Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement following the lawsuit.

SB 1318 is the latest of a long list of abortion restrictions enacted over the past several years, most of which have been blocked by federal courts. This includes restrictions on medication abortion, which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit preliminarily blocked in June 2014, a decision the United States Supreme Court refused to review in December 2014.

The law remains blocked while legal challenge continues. The Ninth Circuit also declared Arizona’s ban on abortion at 20 weeks unconstitutional and in January 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review that decision.

“Plain and simple, this law would force doctors to lie to women about their health care options, and that is never acceptable,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Women and their health care providers must be able to make decisions about the care that’s right for them based on solid evidence and sound medical practice, not the agendas of politicians who have no business interfering in these matters.”

“This reckless law forces doctors to lie to their patients, and it puts women’s health at risk,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “This law inserts politics and junk science into every exam room in Arizona and that’s why we’re fighting it.”