Starting today, Planned Parenthood will end abortion services in seven Arizona clinics, to comply with a recent state law that severely restricts access to abortions. There had previously been ten Planned Parenthoods in the state that offered abortion services, but now Arizona is down to three. All of the remaining clinics are in Tucson and Phoenix, raising questions about whether women in rural areas will be able to access abortions at all.
The decision to end abortion services at the clinics came after an appeals court upheld restrictions placed on abortion facilities back in 2009. This included a 24-hour waiting period for abortion services and a requirement that surgical abortions be performed only by a doctor. The state enacted an even broader wave of restrictions earlier this year, banning nurse practitioners from providing medical abortions, which are (as their name suggests) performed using medications, not instruments.
According to the Arizona Daily Star, “the requirements of both the 2009 and 2011 laws leave Arizona Planned Parenthood with just six full- and part-time doctors to handle nearly 100,000 abortions a year, including a new state mandate for face-to-face doctor meetings with patients ahead of time.”
This is clearly an impossible task for the doctors, so Planned Parenthood has no option but to remove abortion services from all but three of its clinics. Family planning will still be available at all of its locations, however, which Bryan Howard, the president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, says is more important now than ever.
Howard says that many abortion doctors face harassment, making more doctors unwilling to take on the job. ”When word gets around, as it does in the health-care community, about facing that kind of risk for yourself and your family, I think some medical professionals think twice,” he said.
The Arizona legislature is leaving the state’s women in a terrible situation. Planned Parenthood may seek review of the 2009 law by the Arizona Supreme Court, but even if they are successful in blocking the law judicially, Arizona politicians should stop attempting to encroach on Arizona women’s ability to access abortion. If women can’t get to an abortion clinic easily (especially with the 24 hour waiting periods), abortion might as well be illegal.
Photo from Dave Fayram via flickr.