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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
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New Arizona Abortion Restriction Already Outdated, Governor Says

PHOENIX (CN) - Arizona's governor acknowledged that one of three abortion laws he signed last week, restricting medication abortions, requires clinics to follow outdated protocols and that "some changes may need to be made in a later bill."

Senate Bill 1324, which Gov. Doug Ducey signed on March 31, requires clinics to follow protocols for administering medication abortions as they were on Dec. 31, 2015.

Ducey's signature came a day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines that relax the protocols and allow women to take their second dose of the drugs at home.

Ducey, a Republican and a Catholic, acknowledged that the Legislature may have to address the FDA changes in a future bill.

"At the time SB 1324 was passed, the FDA had not updated its label in 15 years, and there was no indication that an update was imminent," Ducey wrote in a letter to Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan. "I recognize that given the unexpected actions by the FDA, some changes may need to be made in a later bill, and I stand ready to consider those changes when they reach my desk," Ducey wrote.

The ACLU was not impressed.

"By signing SB 1324, Gov. Ducey decided he has the power to freeze time," said ACLU of Arizona Executive Director Alessandra Soler said in a statement.

"This law prohibits Arizona women from receiving the best care, based on the most up-to-date scientific research, when a doctor administers medication abortion. Doctors are encouraged to prescribe medication in accordance with the most current evidence, even when research advances beyond the science used to formulate FDA guidelines."

The new FDA protocol allows women to take mifepristone, formerly known as RU-486 and marketed as Mifeprex, up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy to induce an abortion. Mifepristone works by blocking progesterone, a hormone needed to maintain pregnancy, and increases the efficiency of a second medication given to women that causes the uterus to contract and end the pregnancy.

Under the new guidelines, a woman may take the second medication at home instead of in the doctor's office.

The president of the Center for Arizona Policy, which wrote the bill, celebrated Ducey's signature.

"While today we may celebrate this victory, our work is not done until every woman and preborn child is protected from the dangerous and deadly practices of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry," Cathi Herrod said.

Ducey also signed two other abortion bills into law March 31.

Senate Bill 1474 bans use of a human fetus or embryo as research, experimentation or study unless it is for the purpose of saving the life of the fetus or its mother or a pathology study. It also bans sale or donation of a human fetus or embryo.

Senate Bill 1485 bans state employees from using payroll salary deductions for "contributions made to a charitable organization that performs a non-federally qualified abortion or maintains or operates a facility where a non-federally qualified abortion in performed."

Non-federally qualified abortions are those not made in cases of rape, incest or for the health of the mother.

"The right to life is fundamental, and these reforms are consistent with my track record of supporting common-sense initiatives that promote the health and safety of Arizonans and protect precious human life," Ducey said in a statement. "In light of recent allegations of unlawful practices and procedures on a national level, it is a responsibility I will not take lightly. I will continue to support efforts that affirm the protection of the preborn."

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