New Arizona abortion clinic regulations take effect April 1

Physicians who perform surgical abortions must soon have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and any clinic that dispenses the abortion pill must do so in line with FDA protocol, when new abortion clinic regulations take effect April 1.

The Department of Health Services released the new standards this month. These requirements were passed by the Arizona legislature and signed by Governor Jan Brewer as part of the 2012 Mother’s Health and Safety Act.

Abortion providers have approximately two months to comply with the rules. These standards require that:

• The abortion pill must be dispensed in line with Federal Food and Drug Administration protocol, which requires the pill only be dispensed in the first seven weeks of a pregnancy. Currently, anti-abortion groups say that abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, ignore this protocol and distribute the abortion pill through nine weeks. However, Planned Parenthood representatives say, that claim is “inaccurate. Licensed medical providers, like Planned Parenthood Arizona, do not ignore FDA protocol. Since the FDA approved the drug used in medication abortion (about 14 years ago), research and evidence-based medicine have lead to evolved best practices that are recommended by the American Medical Association, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and many others. Evidence-based medicine is the standard for best practices among physicians.”

• Doctors who perform surgical abortions must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic.

• Any time an ambulance is needed at an abortion clinic, the incident must be reported to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

• Signs must be posted in abortion clinics informing women that it is illegal for anyone to coerce them into having an abortion.

Four other states have passed similar legislation. Most recently, Texas passed similar requirements in 2013, which were then challenged by the abortion industry in Federal Court. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, denied a preliminary injunction, allowing these standards to take effect in Texas.