Health Care

FDA decision puts Arizona anti-abortion law in legal limbo

An anti-abortion bill signed into law by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday could be in legal limbo because it is at odds with recent federal regulation on the issue.

The Republican governor signed three anti-abortion regulations on Thursday, including one that specifically restricts access to medical abortions.

“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 after signing the bills.

{mosads}Under the new law, all medical abortions are required to follow Food and Drug Administration standards that were in effect as of Dec. 31, 2015. That law is now out of date with this week’s rules from the FDA on medical abortions — and is likely in legal limbo.

Arizona’s state Senate had passed its bill in late February.

The FDA unexpectedly released new rules this week, approving an expanded use of the pill. Women can now take the abortion-inducing medication up to 10 weeks into their pregnancies, and are also required to attend fewer doctor visits. They are also approved for a lower dose, which reduces the risks of side effects.

The FDA revised medical guidelines that were last updated in the early 2000s, and had been considered out-of-date and overly restrictive by leading medical groups.

The contrasts between the Arizona law and the updated federal policy is certain to draw legal challenges from abortion rights supporters like Planned Parenthood.

It’s already drawing heavy criticism from groups like the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“This bill doubles down on Arizona’s politically motivated crusade to force bad medicine on women,” the group’s staff attorney, David Brown, wrote in a statement Friday. “A law requiring women to receive twentieth-century medical care in the twenty-first century is mean-spirited and offensive.”

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