Thursday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill mandating that physicians use an outdated and less effective protocol for medication abortion -- flouting new guidelines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this week.

This would also force women to travel to a health center four times for medication abortion, given other existing restrictions in Arizona.

This would have an outsized impact on women of color, people living in rural communities, and low-income women who already face greater obstacles to accessing health care — especially those who may not have a vehicle or a driver’s license, cannot afford the added expenses of travel, or live in one of the many communities that do not have public transportation.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit blocked similar restrictions passed in 2012, a decision the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review.

“Yet again Governor Ducey is flouting the advice of doctors and putting women’s health and safety at risk. This law places politicians between doctors and their patients, hindering the use of best available medical protocols. We’ve seen the harmful consequences for women when politicians restrict access to abortion, forcing them to travel hundreds of miles, risk losing their jobs, delay care, or as we’re seeing in some places, take matters into their own hands. At Planned Parenthood, we never back down, and we will never stop fighting for our patients right to safe, legal abortion.”

– Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Forcing Doctors to Ignore Latest Evidence-Based Protocols

This new AZ law will force doctors to ignore the latest evidence-based protocols and to follow the regimen outlined on the old mifepristone label, which was based on clinical trials completed in the mid-1990s.  Medical research has demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of a newer FDA-approved regimen using a lower dosage of mifepristone that can also be used three weeks later in pregnancy, up to 70 days from a woman’s last menstrual period. This new regimen has been recognized by the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as “superior” to the regimen on the previous FDA-approved label. 

“This is outrageous. This bill was never about women’s health. It is about forcing doctors to use an outdated protocol to make it more difficult for Arizonans to access abortion. Doctors practice medicine, not politicians.  And doctors need to be free to incorporate evidence-based improvements into their treatment regimes.”

– Bryan Howard, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Arizona

An overwhelming majority of women who choose medication abortion are satisfied with the method.

One study found that 97 percent of women would recommend the method to a friend.  Additionally, 91 percent of the women reported that they would choose the mifepristone regimen again if they had to have another abortion.

Tags: Doug Ducey, Arizona, FDA, State Fights

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