The state has agreed to delay the enforcement of a law requiring doctors to advise women who are seeking medication abortions that the procedure can be reversed.
The law, passed as SB1318, was to take effect July 3, but Planned Parenthood and two doctors filed suit June 4 to overturn it.
Other provisions of the law, including a prohibition on using tax money to pay for abortion services through health care exchanges, will still take effect.
The agreement states that doctors don’t have to comply with the challenged provision of the law while it is being litigated. That means doctors don’t have to tell women there is a possibility their medication abortions can be reversed.
The plaintiffs are suing Attorney General Mark Brnovich, the Department of Health Services and various medical regulation boards. The suit asks a federal judge to find the law unconstitutional and unenforceable and permanently stop it from taking effect.
The agreement for a temporary restraining order requires Judge Steven P. Logan of U.S. District Court in Arizona to also give his approval, which is considered a formality. It is only temporary until he holds a hearing to determine whether a longer-term hold on the law is necessary.
The parties suggested to Logan he hold three days of hearings in September or October.
The law requires doctors to tell women who are seeking an abortion that it “may be possible to reverse the effects of a medication abortion if the woman changes her mind but that time is of the essence.” Doctors are also required to tell their patients that information and assistance in reversing the effects of a medication abortion is available on the Department of Health Services website.
A medication abortion is typically done in the first nine weeks of pregnancy.
A woman would take mifepristone, commonly known as RU-486 at the clinic on one day, and a second drug, misoprostol, at home a day or two later.
The lawsuit says RU-486 blocks the hormone progesterone, which is necessary to maintain pregnancy, and increases the effect of the second drug, which causes the uterus to expand and expel its contents.
A small number of doctors in Arizona and around the country have experimented with a procedure in which large doses of progesterone are injected into patients who have taken RU-486, but haven’t taken the second drug, to stave off the abortion.
Those doctors claim more than 100 women have saved their pregnancies by using the procedure.
Opponents of the law contend there is no medical evidence the procedure works, and forcing doctors to provide the information violates their First Amendment Rights.