This federal lawsuit challenges three Arizona TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider) laws that prevent and delay many women from accessing abortion. The lawsuit was filed on April 11, 2019. Arizona’s extreme, medically unnecessary TRAP laws violate Arizona women’s constitutional right to access legal abortion. Their effect has been dramatic: a 40 percent decline in abortion clinics, leaving eighty percent of Arizona counties with no access to abortion clinics, and weeks-long waiting times for services. There is only one abortion provider in the Northern part of the state, and that health center only provides medication abortion one day per week.
The lawsuit challenges three aspects of Arizona’s TRAP laws:
- An advanced practice clinician ban that prohibits qualified advanced practice clinicians like nurse practitioners from providing abortions and related services;
- A mandatory delay and two-trip requirement that imposes needless barriers to health care, including requiring patients to visit clinics in person, twice, with a 24-hour mandatory delay between visits that, in practice, delays women far longer; and
- A telemedicine ban that prevents access to early abortion services in remote areas.
Medically unnecessary laws have essentially stripped abortion access from many women living in Navajo, Hopi, Hualapai and Apache tribal jurisdictions, among others, as well as rural women in other regions of the state who already face many barriers to accessing essential health care.
Allowing qualified medical professionals to prescribe pills for abortion via telemedicine would expand access to women in underserved areas. Medication abortion has been available in the U.S. for many years and is extremely safe — the complication rate is less than one-half of one percent according to the Guttmacher Institute, whether provided in-person or by telemedicine. Telemedicine has been widely embraced in Arizona and across the nation as a high-quality health-care option. In fact, the legislature has promoted the use of telemedicine to provide other health-care services, including treatments for trauma, burns, cardiology, pulmonology, infectious diseases and neurologic diseases — even strokes.
Permitting qualified clinicians to provide abortion services would also help expand access. Abortion is the only medical procedure that the Arizona Legislature has specifically banned trained nurse practitioners and physician assistants from providing, even though they can provide medically identical procedures in miscarriage management.
Plaintiff(s): Dr. Paul Isaacson and Planned Parenthood Arizona
Center Attorney(s): Marc Hearron and Jessica Sklarsky
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: O’Melveny & Myers; Planned Parenthood Federation of America
We filed our complaint in federal district court on April 11, 2019. The case is currently in discovery.