PHOENIX (CN) – A new Arizona law unconstitutionally restricts abortion services, two medical clinics claim in Federal Court. Arizona House Bill 2564 requires any woman seeking an abortion to visit a medical facility at least twice, 24 hours apart, and to get counseling on the first visit unless it is a medical emergency.
The clinics want the Arizona Medical Board enjoined from enforcing HB 2564 because it “violates the Fifth and Fourteenth amendment rights of the clinics and their patients.”
The complaint, filed by Tucson Women’s Center and Family Planning Associates, says the law prohibits health-care providers from charging for any service “to a patient who has inquired about an abortion until after she has followed the new informed consent process.” The clinics say this subjects them “to unique and severe constraints.”
No other medical procedure is subjected to a mandatory 24-hour delay between the patient’s consent and treatment, the clinics say. Nor does the state instruct doctors on what they must tell patients before any other medical procedure in order to get patients’ consent for that procedure. Nor does the state prohibit doctors from charging “for services provided to a patient at the time of service if the patient mentions or seeks to schedule a particular type of medical procedure.”
The clinics say HB 2564 will “prevent some women from obtaining abortions altogether,” will increase the psychological impact on women who seek abortions, will cause some women to delay an abortion until later in the pregnancy, and will “pressure and intimidate pregnant women into continued pregnancy and childbirth.” The clinics say the mandatory 24-hour delay will harm low-income women, who already have difficulty paying for the procedure, by requiring them to take time off from work.
The clinics also challenge to two “conscience clauses” in the law that will allow any health-care worker to deny a woman emergency contraception or an abortion.
In 2007, 10,486 women had abortions in Arizona, according to the complaint.
Lisa Wynn, executive director of the Arizona Medical Board and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The clinics are represented by Suzanne Novak and Jordan Goldberg with the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York, N.Y.