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Arizona Sued Over|Medical Abortion Law

PHOENIX (CN) - Planned Parenthood sued Arizona, claiming it unconstitutionally banned off-label use of medication abortion and wrongfully allows the U.S. FDA to set standards on how the drugs may be administered.

Planned Parenthood of Arizona sued Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble, in his official capacity, in Maricopa County Court.

Arizona House Bill 2036 of 2012 restricts "how physicians may perform medication abortion, a nonsurgical alternative that allows women to end an early pregnancy safely with the use of medication alone, avoiding the need for a surgical procedure," according to the 7-page complaint.

Medication abortion involves oral ingestion of misoprostol and mifepristone, which Planned Parenthood says it administers until the ninth week.

The FDA approved use of the drugs to end pregnancies until the seventh week and requires that a second dose of misoprostol be taken at a clinic, not at home.

The 9th Circuit issued an emergency stay on the law last week after U.S. District Judge David Bury in Phoenix refused to grant Planned Parenthood an injunction.

Planned Parenthood of Arizona says it has provided medication abortions since 2011 at four of its centers, using a regimen recommended by the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It provided medication abortions to 2,511 patients in 2013, or 38 percent of eligible patients.

Plaintiff Dr. William Richardson says in the complaint that he and co-plaintiff Tucson Women's Center provide abortion services to almost 900 women per year -- nearly half of whom choose medication abortion.

The Arizona law requires that any medication provided to "induce an abortion is administered in compliance with the protocol that is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [('FDA')] and that is outlined in the final printing labeling [('FPL')] instructions for that medication, drug or substance,'" the lawsuit states.

"The truth is Arizona women deserve better," Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said in a statement. "The Arizona 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."

According to the complaint, the law unconstitutionally delegates "legislative authority for the regulation of medication abortions in Arizona to the FDA and to drug companies," which generate the content for the drug labels.

Planned Parenthood also claims the Arizona Department of Health Services violated its policy on public comments when "[o]n Jan. 27, 2014, without providing the additional opportunities for comment that its own policy requires, and without any public meetings, ADHS promulgated HV 2036's implementing regulations."

The plaintiffs seek declaratory judgment that the law is unconstitutional, and an injunction stopping its enforcement.

They are represented by Christopher LaVoy and Hamid Jabbar of Tiffany & Bosco.

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