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If You’re a Woman in Arizona, Watch Out for Your Reproductive Rights

If You’re a Woman in Arizona, Watch Out for Your Reproductive Rights

Starting on April 1, abortion got a whole lot less safe for Arizona women, who are facing tough new laws on medication abortion that force them to undergo an outdated and less safe version of the procedure, thanks to Arizona’s anti-choice legislature.

The laws were challenged in court by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Center for Reproductive Rights, but a judge refused to rule against them — even after agreeing with the points made by the reproductive rights organizations.

Buh?! What just happened?

First, some background. Around the country, numerous anti-choice legislators and other officials are passing, or attempting to pass, laws that specifically single out abortion providers and clinics, with the express goal of making abortion less accessible. This is known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) and it’s totally legal, in addition to totally frustrating.

Some TRAP laws work by telling doctors how to practice medicine, while others reclassify abortion clinics as ambulatory surgery centers, forcing them to make costly renovations or close down. Others attempt to ban certain kinds of procedures, and more set up waiting periods and other restrictions on abortion.

In Arizona’s case, a 2012 law included a package of TRAP laws and restrictions on abortion. One of those laws was a 20 week abortion ban, which was struck down. Another ordered doctors to follow the label instructions on the drugs used in medication abortion. That might sound like a good thing — we want doctors following directions, right? — but it actually wasn’t. That’s because the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, along with other professional groups, has agreed on a new, evidence-based protocol for administering these drugs that is safer and more comfortable for patients.

This practice is quite common. When drugs are first released, the only information available about how to use them comes from tightly controlled clinical studies. As they’re more widely used and practitioners get used to them, they have an opportunity to refine dosing and come up with tricks to make them easier, safer and more comfortable to use. This is known as “evidence-based medicine,” and it’s what allows the practice of medicine to constantly get better. With the legislature telling doctors how to practice medicine despite its lack of medical experience, the state is sending a message that it should be able to control even minute aspects of women’s health care.

The judge in this case agreed that the evidence-based medicine argument put forward by Planned Parenthood was valid, and that this was clearly a superior and safer way to administer the drugs involved. However, he still sided with the state, refusing to strike down the law and allowing it to go into effect on April 1. The state has already restricted access to medication abortion by no longer allowing trained nurses to provide it, limiting the number of procedures across the state even though this option has been available in the United States for more than a decade and provides a safe, comfortable and compassionate form of abortion.

Shrinking options for Arizona women is bad news, as this could put them in the position of having to make dangerous choices in order to access abortion services — something that should worry the legislature, because illegal abortions can come with serious risks including infertility or even death.

Reproductive rights organizations promise that the fight isn’t over, and they’ll be back in court to protect Arizona women.

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Photo credit: Rusty Ferguson.

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2:34PM PDT on Jul 5, 2014

Government should have NOTHING to do with health care.

If they feel the need they can pay for the WHOLE THING ONLY!

8:30AM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

If men had to carry and birth the pregnancies they start, interrupt their careers and raise a child as a single parent, the laws would be written differently, there would be as many birth control clinics as fast food places and they would be safe.
Forcing laws to control a women's body is rape without using a penis.

4:09AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

I'm waiting for the day when the legislators try to outlaw tampons because they believe a woman might enjoy inserting one into her vagina. I mean it's not a penis so every man should be intimidated by the fact that tampons get to get inside a woman several days in a row every month like clockwork, and a man's ability to get inside a woman is iffy... especially if he's a teathuglibaner.

12:12PM PDT on Apr 15, 2014

What's next, mandating that all abortions should be performed with rusty coat hangers?? This is NOT a step forward at all.

2:58PM PDT on Apr 14, 2014

Let's pass a law that all males are given a mandatory vasectomy when they reach puberty. If and when they marry and want to father children they can have it surgically reversed.
No sperm = no pregnancy = no abortion.
Problem solved.

9:00PM PDT on Apr 13, 2014

Agreed BJ J, but perhaps the republicans are looking for potential new voters.

This issue should be a private matter between a woman and her doctor, not right wing politicians following fundamentalist doctrine.

3:57PM PDT on Apr 13, 2014

Pro-life is pro-slavery.

12:04PM PDT on Apr 13, 2014

@NATASHA:are eyou serious ? have I misunderstood or are you just provoking saying abortions have to be banned ?

11:59AM PDT on Apr 13, 2014


10:55AM PDT on Apr 13, 2014

Sounds like it's about time to start putting limitations on men's reproductive rights and see how they like it. Restrict Viagra and Cialis unless unnecessary procedures and tests are performed. Make sure there is a waiting period before they are available. Men should also have to have their sperm tested on an annual basis, and a new test should be created to check for testicular cancer by placing them in a vice (much like a mammogram).

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