Kansas is losing notoriety. Once the only state trying to shut down all of its abortion clinics, Kansas may soon be overtaken by Arizona if its Republican lawmakers have their way. Earlier this year, the Arizona GOP passed two laws that aim to expand — and effectively ban — what constitutes a medical abortion. Up until now, Arizona law required surgical abortions to be performed by a doctor, but allowed certified nurses to administer RU-486, a drug that induces abortion within a few days. The new laws, however, not only require clinics that perform abortions via RU-486 to adhere to the same requirements as those that perform surgical abortions but also prohibit nurse practitioners from administering the drug. In doing so, Planned Parenthood — which filed a lawsuit to challenge the laws’ constitutionality — points out that Arizona is effectively banning abortions in three cities:
The new laws extend all the requirements for a surgical abortion to a medical abortion. While that includes the mandates for equipment and personnel that must be present, the biggest change is that nurse practitioners will no longer be able to perform the procedure.
Planned Parenthood, in its lawsuit, says that would mean no more abortions performed in Flagstaff, Prescott and Yuma which are staffed only by nurse practitioners. They also said it will mean unnecessary delays in the procedure for patients in the Tucson and Phoenix areas, as women who otherwise could get a medical abortion from a nurse practitioner now will have to wait until a doctor is available.
Bryan Howard, president of the organization, said these bills and others in prior years are all designed to make it impossible for women to exercise their constitutional right to decide whether to carry a baby to full term.
Planned Parenthood also noted that “about half of the abortions in Arizona are performed through medication.” Nurse practitioners and physician assistants “have been providing this care in Arizona for over a decade with exemplary quality and safety ratings,” said Planned Parenthood Arizona CEO Bryan Howard. “There is not medical evidence that they should be prohibited from providing the care. And we know that given the shortage of physicians willing to provide this care, it will have a significant impact and place a burden on patients.”
Arizona’s recent legislative history is riddled with extreme attacks on this constitutional right, including the first law to send doctors to jail for performing abortions based on race or gender. However, state attorneys have agreed to hold off enforcing medication abortion laws to hear Planned Parenthood’s argument. That hearing is set for Aug. 22.