Tucson Women's Clinic v. Eden


Primary Content

This case challenged a "TRAP" law passed by the Arizona Legislature in 1999. The term "TRAP" stands for "targeted regulation of abortion providers," and it refers to laws that target the medical practices of doctors who provide abortions, and impose on them burdensome requirements which are different and more stringent than the legal requirements imposed on other medical practices. These laws increase the costs of abortion and hinder physicians from becoming abortion providers. Arizona’s TRAP law requires medical practices that provide abortions to become licensed as health care facilities and to comply with a set of costly and unnecessary regulations. The State does not require other medical practices – such as other offices of obstetrician-gynecologists, or offices of general surgeons – to become licensed as health care facilities or to comply with any health facility regulations.

Filing date: 03/01/2000

State: Arizona

Plaintiff(s): Tucson Woman's Clinic, Damon Raphael, M.D., Old Pueblo Family Planning, Robert H. Tamis, M.D. P.C., SIMAT Corp., dba Abortion Services of Phoenix, and Robert H. Tamis, M.D., on behalf of themselves and their patients seeking abortions

Center Attorney(s): Bonnie Scott Jones

Summary: CRR brought this federal lawsuit in 2000 against the new TRAP law on behalf of a number of Arizona physicians who provide abortions in their medical practices. The new TRAP law has never taken effect because early on in our lawsuit, we were able to negotiate with the State to stay enforcement of the law until resolution of our case, and our case remains ongoing. In 2001, the District Court entered summary judgment partially in our favor, and partially in favor of defendants. Both sides appealed, and the case was argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In June 2004, the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling in the case, enjoining the law in part on the grounds that it: (1) violates patients' rights to informational privacy by giving the Arizona's Department of Health and its contractors access to patients complete medical records, including their ultrasound prints, (2) subjects abortion providers to unreasonable searches by allowing the Department of Health to conduct inspection of their medical practices without a search warrant, and (3) contains a provision that requires providers to comply with a hopelessly vague standard. However, the Ninth Circuit ruled against us on our claim that the entire TRAP scheme denies plaintiffs equal protection and should be enjoined in whole. The Ninth Circuit held that a trial was needed on plaintiffs' claim that the law imposes an undue burden in the path of women seeking abortion. Following the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, the parties engaged in lengthy negotiations, which led to a settlement on plaintiffs' undue burden claim. The settlement became final in April 2010, after changes to regulations under the law were approved. The new rules took effect in November 2010.