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Second Lawsuit Filed Challenging Arizona Medication Abortion Restrictions

Jessica Mason Pieklo

A new lawsuit filed in state court argues that when lawmakers implemented new restrictions on medication abortion in the state they unlawfully delegated power to the FDA to regulate Arizona doctors.

Reproductive health-care advocates in Arizona have filed a lawsuit in state court challenging an Arizona law that restricts the use of abortion-inducing medications to only those allowed by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protocol.

It is the second lawsuit challenging Arizona’s restrictions on medication abortion. Advocates first filed suit in federal court, arguing the restrictions violated federal constitutional rights. Late last month a federal judge refused to block implementation of those restrictions while a trial on the constitutionality of the rules proceeds. Advocates appealed that decision to a panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit who blocked the lower court and ordered the rules stayed until after it hears arguments, which the appeals court scheduled for May 13.

Unlike the first lawsuit, which involves questions of federal constitutional rights, this latest filing argues that because the regulation of doctors is a matter of state concern, by restricting medication abortions to FDA protocol the Arizona legislature violated Arizona law by unlawfully delegating to the FDA a matter of state concern. The complaint also claims that Arizona lawmakers violated their own rule-making procedures when passing the regulations because they failed to provide for enough time for the public to comment, as required under law.

The state court action was filed before the Ninth Circuit had issued a ruling on the federal action, but advocates were clear that the two cases are not dependent on one another. “We filed this state court action because we want to use all the tools at our disposal to protect the rights of Arizonans to access safe reproductive health care,” David Brown, staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, explained to Rewire. “Both cases will proceed independently as we fight back against these dangerous and unnecessary restrictions.”

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The plaintiffs include Planned Parenthood Arizona, Dr. William Richardson, and the Tucson Women’s Center. They’ve asked the court for a declaratory judgment that the law is unconstitutional and an injunction stopping its enforcement.

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