Arizona Health Care Providers Challenge Law Forcing Them to Lie to Patients
New law forces doctors to tell patients medication abortions can be reversed. Medical experts oppose the law, calling it “bad medicine”
(PRESS RELEASE) Several Arizona health care providers filed a new lawsuit in federal court today challenging a recently passed state law which forces doctors to mislead patients by telling them that it may be possible to “reverse” a medication abortion. Arizona’s law is part of a recent wave of restrictions on safe, legal abortion based on bad medicine that prevents doctors from providing medical care based on the best evidence available and their medical judgment. SB 1318 is scheduled to take effect on July 3, 2015.
Because there is no credible, medically accepted evidence that a medication abortion can be reversed, this law is opposed by medical experts, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Dr. Ilana Addis and Dr. Julie Kwatra, chairwoman and legislative chair of the Arizona Section of ACOG respectively, called the Arizona law “bad medicine” and “tantamount to quackery.” If it goes into effect, this law would force doctors to provide all patients seeking a safe, legal abortion — even patients who cannot have a medication abortion or who have chosen a surgical procedure — with medically inaccurate and misleading information that could be harmful to their health.
“Plain and simple, this law would force doctors to lie to women about their health care options, and that is never acceptable,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Women and their health care providers must be able to make decisions about the care that’s right for them based on solid evidence and sound medical practice, not the agendas of politicians who have no business interfering in these matters. We are confident the courts will put an end to this intrusive and deceitful law.”
“This reckless law forces doctors to lie to their patients, and it puts women’s health at risk. This law should never have passed, and we’re asking the court to stop it from going into effect. At Planned Parenthood, all of our physicians, nurses, and clinicians make sure women have support and accurate information about all of their options. This law inserts politics and junk science into every exam room in Arizona and that’s why we’re fighting it,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“Extreme legislators are so focused on preventing a woman from getting an abortion that they will completely ignore the medical experts and hide behind bad medicine,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated instance. In too many states across the country, legislators are pushing laws that are opposed by leading medical organizations for the sole purpose of shutting down women’s health centers and stopping a woman from getting an abortion.”
Women in the United States have been safely and legally using medication abortion for over a decade, with approximately one in four women who make the decision to end a pregnancy choosing this method if they’re eligible — in Arizona, the number is closer to half.
A recent national poll found that despite Americans’ complicated feelings about abortion, nearly nine in 10 of them (87 percent) want a woman’s abortion experience to be informed by medically accurate information.
For the last several years, Arizona has enacted numerous restrictions on safe, legal abortion and other reproductive health care, many of which have been blocked by the courts. This includes restrictions on medication abortion, which the Ninth Circuit preliminarily blocked in June 2014, a decision the United States Supreme Court refused to review in December 2014. The law remains blocked while the legal challenge continues. Similarly, the state’s ban on abortion at 20 weeks was declared unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the measure in January 2014. An effort to exclude Planned Parenthood health centers from providing cancer screenings, birth control, and other care to their patients through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) was also struck down by the Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case in February 2014.
The plaintiffs in this case — Planned Parenthood Arizona, Eric Reuss, M.D., Paul A. Isaacson, M.D, Desert Star Family Planning, and DeShawn Taylor, M.D. — are represented by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Arizona, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PFFA), and Squire Patton Boggs.