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Planned Parenthood Says Arizona Abortion Restrictions Unconstitutional

By Claire Caulfield
Published: Thursday, April 11, 2019 - 11:56am
Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2019 - 7:38pm

Planned Parenthood Arizona filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday challenging the legality of a number of Arizona abortion restrictions.

“These intrusive measures, based on zero medical evidence, make it unduly difficult for patients to access the healthcare they need,” said Bryan Howard, president and CEO of the organization.

Howard says they are focusing on three specific restrictions in the state.

Arizona law does not allow nurse practitioners or physicians’ assistant to provide abortions, only doctors can give the procedure.

Laws also require patients to see a doctor in-person 24 hours before the procedure. Providers are also banned from prescribing abortion pills via telemedicine.

“Together they create a web of restrictions that have crippled access in the state,” Howard said.

In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court said any abortion restrictions have to be supported by medical evidence that shows the restriction makes procedures safer.

Abortion-rights groups have sued to overturn the physician requirement, 24-hour waiting period and telemedicine ban in other states.

Catalina Vergara, the lawyer who filed suit in Tucson’s federal court, says the waiting period and telemedicine ban disproportionally affects women living in rural areas and Native American women.

“This is medically unnecessary and burdens women by forcing them to take time off work or school and travel potentially very long distances to receive care,” Vergara said.

Most of these restrictions were enacted by the Arizona legislature over a decade ago. Planned Parenthood Arizona said in that time there has been a 40 percent decline in the number of abortion clinics in the state.

“Leaving 12 of Arizona’s 15  counties – 80 percent – without access at all,” Howard said.

The suit names the Arizona attorney general, Arizona Medical Board, Arizona Department of Health Services and the Atizona Board of Nursing as defendants.

KJZZ has asked those groups for comment.  

“Planned Parenthood might be disappointed its business model is failing, but we’re talking about human beings, not appliances. Planned Parenthood should work to change the law if it doesn’t like the policies, not rely on the courts to do its bidding," said Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Wednesday afternoon.

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