Lawsuit Filed To Prevent Arizona From Limiting Use of Abortion Drug

A lawsuit challenging Arizona's limits on the use of RU-486 was filed in federal court on Tuesday.

One of two groups representing the plaintiffs in the suit is the Center for Reproductive Rights.

"Arizona politicians have imposed restrictions that go against years of scientific research and doctors' practical experience in yet another effort to block women's access to safe and legal abortion," Nancy Northup, CRR president told Reuters.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix on behalf of Planned Parenthood Arizona and health center Tucson Women's Center, said the rules, due to go into effect on April 1, are unconstitutional and would severely hamper a woman's right to a non-surgical abortion.

Under rules required by a 2012 abortion law, any medicine used to induce an abortion in Arizona must be administered according to protocol authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and subject to instructions on the label.

The FDA has approved RU-486, the so-called "abortion pill," for use within seven weeks' gestation. Doctors who have prescribed it later than that have made an off-label use which is not be allowed under Arizona's law.

At issue in the case is a physician's discretion to go "off-label" and use the drug as the doctor believes would be best for a woman seeking to end her pregnancy.

The restrictions were part of a law aimed at limiting abortions in Arizona. Part of that law, a ban on abortions after 20 weeks was struck down by a federal court. However, the limits on drugs like RU-486b remain intact, but not unchallenged, according to Reuters:

Similar rules on non-surgical abortions have been challenged in several states. Last November, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling that threw out limits on the RU-486 abortion pill in Oklahoma after the rules were challenged by the reproductive rights center.

There's more abortion regulation news out of Arizona. Also on Tuesday, the Arizona House of Representatives approved legislation that would pave the way for unannounced inspections of abortion clinics in the state, via The New York Times:

The State House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a measure that would allow state health department officials to conduct unannounced inspections of abortion clinics. The clinic inspections now require warrants, and Democrats argued that the legislation would empower public officials to harass abortion providers. Republicans said the bill would ensure that abortion providers were following state and federal laws.

Interesting side note—according to The New York Times, the unannounced inspection bill was written by the same Christian organization (The Center for Arizona Policy) that was one of the backers of the anti-gay bill that would have allowed businesses to cite "religious freedom" in order to refuse services to gay patrons.

Image via AP Images.