Arizona Court Allows Shiny New Abortion Restrictions To Take Effect

Yesterday an Arizona appeals court ruled that parts of a 2009 state law that imposes new abortion restrictions can go into effect. According to the judges, laws only violate women's rights when they create an "undue burden." Placing some burden on women trying to obtain a legal procedure is totally fine.

The new law says that women must see a doctor in person on the day before getting an abortion. The Associated Press reports that currently, the required "informed consent" talk about abortion risks and alternatives can take place over the phone with a doctor or nurse practitioner. The law also cracks down on nurse practitioners performing abortions. According to the Arizona Daily Star, the judges said in their decision that the fact that nurse practitioners are trained to do the procedure and have a comparable safety record to doctors is irrelevant. The law also requires parental consent forms for minors to be notarized and allows medical professionals to refuse to perform abortions, provide certain contraceptives, and dispense the morning after pill, even in cases of rape.

Two years ago, Planned Parenthood won an injunction that prevented parts of the law from going into effect. Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood of Arizona (pictured above), says that the new restrictions put an unreasonable burden on women, particularly in some rural areas where the nearest clinic is hours away and only a nurse practitioner has been trained to perform abortions. Deborah Sheasby, an attorney representing the anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy, claims law's aim isn't to discourage abortions, but "this is a basic safety thing." So maybe it's just a coincidence that the new restrictions will discourage abortions, which were already safe.

Planned Parenthood may appeal the decision, but it still doesn't bode well for the future of reproductive choice in Arizona. The court will soon consider other laws that would impose new restrictions on the personnel, equipment, and facilities of clinics that only offer medical abortions, and ban nurse practitioners from performing them too. Opening a pill bottle is quite the delicate procedure, and lawmakers aren't sure that nurse practitioners are up to it.

Arizona Court Clears Way For Abortion Restrictions [AP]
Appeals Court: New Arizona Abortion Restrictions Legal [Arizona Daily Star]