Abortion providers in Arizona will not be forced to tell their patients that medication-induced abortions can be “reversed” while a lawsuit challenging the requirement proceeds in federal court.
The requirement is part of SB 1318, a law passed this spring that primarily bans state residents from purchasing any health insurance plan through the federal marketplace that includes abortion coverage. The law includes a mandate that abortion providers must tell patients both orally and in writing that they may be able to reverse the effects of a medically induced abortion—a scientifically inaccurate claim.
Arizona’s requirement is the first of its kind in the nation.
The provision was scheduled to take effect July 3, but reproductive rights advocates filed a lawsuit in June challenging the measure, arguing it violated the constitutional rights of both patients and providers. Advocates argue that there is no credible evidence to support the state-mandate statement that medication abortions can be reversed, and that such a claim forces providers to steer their patients toward an experimental practice that has not been shown to work or to be safe.
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Those providers claim the requirement violates the medical standard of care, noting that it is opposed by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
About half of all abortions performed in the state involve medication, as opposed to surgical methods. Medication abortions are preformed early in pregnancy and are among the safest methods for terminating a pregnancy.
A hearing on the lawsuit had been scheduled for June 23. But according to court documents, a key witness for the state is unavailable at that time, so the parties agreed to a pause in the enforcement of the provision until the hearing can be rescheduled.
The court documents do not identify which state witness was unavailable for the June 23 hearing.
U.S. District Judge Steven Logan rescheduled the hearing for three days in late October. In the meantime, the state is prohibited from enforcing the “abortion-reversal” mandate.