PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona abortion providers asked a federal judge Thursday to block part of a recently passed law that would require doctors to tell women they can reverse the effects of a drug-induced abortion.
Planned Parenthood and Star Family Planning filed the complaint in federal court, arguing the new law violates abortion providers’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to repeat a state-mandated message against their medical judgment.
Proponents of the law say doctors can give a woman a drug known as progesterone to stop an abortion after she has taken the first of two medications needed to complete the procedure. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says there is no medically accepted evidence that a drug-induced abortion can be reversed.
“This reckless law forces doctors to lie to their patients, and it puts women’s health at risk. This law should never have passed, and we’re asking the court to stop it from going into effect,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Advocates on both sides of the issue said it was the first time such a reversal requirement passed in the U.S., though Arkansas quickly followed with its own law.
The law is the latest in a wave of anti-abortion measures passed by the state’s conservative-led Legislature in recent years. The restrictions include a ban on abortion at 20 weeks that was declared unconstitutional by the courts, and a restriction on the use of some abortion-inducing drugs that was blocked a year ago in a legal challenge.
The governor’s office says Gov. Doug Ducey is reviewing the lawsuit but believes women deserve to know all of their options when considering an important medical decision such as abortion. The Center for Arizona Policy, the conservative organization that pushed the law, denounced the lawsuit.
Women who change their minds after starting the process of a drug-induced abortion “should not have their baby stolen from them because Planned Parenthood, or any abortionist, withheld potentially life-saving facts,” said Josh Kredit, the organization’s general counsel.
The law was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Ducey earlier this year. It is primarily written to bar women from buying any health care plan through the federal marketplace that includes abortion coverage.
The Senate and House passed the bill mainly along party lines in March after a House committee amended it to include the reversal provision.
The only medical professional to support the measure during the hearing, Dr. Allan Sawyer, testified that he had recently reversed a drug-induced abortion at 10 weeks, but he acknowledged the procedure is not widely known.
The law is set to take effect in July.
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