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House votes to restrict medication abortions to first seven weeks

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State lawmakers voted Wednesday to restrict how doctors can use a drug for medication abortions to an existing federal standard, even if that standard changes.

SB1324 says doctors can administer RU-486 to induce an abortion only according to the labeling that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That label, prepared by the manufacturer, says it should be used only through the first seven weeks of pregnancy.

The measure, which needs a final roll-call vote before going to the governor, would outlaw the current practice by obstetricians of using the drug through nine weeks.

Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, said the restriction is appropriate.

“Abortion providers shouldn’t be experimenting with women’s lives,” he said. Kern said the legislation “protects Arizona women … from the cost- and corner-cutting abortion industry.”

But Rep. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman, said SB1324 makes no sense medically. In fact, Cobb, who is a dentist, said the procedures now being used by doctors actually are safer than the one this legislation would outlaw.

House members also gave preliminary approval Wednesday to two other related measures.

SB1474 prohibits the sale, use or transfer of fetal tissue, as well as virtually all scientific research, even on tissue donated by women.

Rep. Stefanie Mach, D-Tucson, pointed out that abortion is legal. She questioned why it should be necessary to discard aborted fetuses as “medical waste” rather than make potential use of them.

But Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, said lawmakers are entitled to conclude that fetuses are still babies who are “just unborn.”

“And I think that it points to a very sick society when we are willing to take unborn children, carve out their organs, sell them and somehow say that is in the name of science,” he said.

The House also gave preliminary approval to SB1485. It says that a program that entitles state employees to donate to charities through payroll deductions is not open to any organization that provides elective abortions.

This is actually the second time lawmakers have argued about the use of RU-486, a drug technically known as mifepristone.

A 2012 law required doctors to use it only according to FDA-approved labeling. But that law was struck down by a judge who said that amounted to the Legislature surrendering its powers to the FDA, pointing out the agency can change its standards at any time.

This new version says doctors have to use RU-486 as the label required at the end of last year, no matter what the agency subsequently decides.

Cobb said that standard was adopted 16 years ago.

She said the FDA specifically allows doctors to use drugs “off label” to find out what works best. And Cobb said what obstetricians have found is not only that the drug can be used safely through nine weeks of pregnancy but also that it need not been taken in 600 milligram doses as the label says.

“It has been shown that it’s safer for women to do the 200 milligrams rather than the 600 milligrams,” she said. And Cobb said that makes no sense at all if the goal is to protect women’s health.

Cobb also said she believes the FDA is reviewing the current labeling of the drug and could change it. Yet if this bill passes, Arizona doctors would be forced to use a standard the FDA no longer recommends.

And Cobb said the law interferes with the doctor-patient relationship, calling it “unacceptable” for the state to control how doctors practice medicine.

But Farnsworth said that’s nothing new, pointing out the state has created regulatory boards to oversee all aspects of how doctors do their jobs.

“This legislature does have an interest in that, and does have a responsibility to make sure things are being done properly,” he said.

4 comments

  1. What a shame Mach and Cobb have to put up with the rest of those uneducated mouths,particularly the men,who have no right to an opinion.Is it not obvious that the major problem, our world suffers from, is simply,way too many people.Are anti abortion people so self centered they must constantly whine and interfere with the major decisions of other peoples lives.Go for literacy before forcing your opinions on the rights of others.Please

  2. Once again, the lunatic fringe that predominate in the Arizona Legislature, and seemingly have no expertise in anything, but votes and opinions on everything, are curtailing Women’s Rights and freedoms. Abortion, contraception, ability to demand governmental transparency are part of governance and law.
    Little wonder that Arizona constantly reaffirms itself, and held out worldwide, as a joke, and embarrassment.
    Do not even guess why few, very few businesses would EVER consider relocating here, or having back office $9 an hour telemarketer jobs in this State.

  3. We could probably meet in the middle in this country IF we had some leadership, BHO doesn’t fit that bill, not even close, nor does the AZ legislature. I am against abortion, but I think it would be reasonable to say a person can have one up to a certain point in time. Like halfway through the pregnancy. The problem as I see it is that the pro-abortion people seem to think its ok up to and including the day the baby is born.

  4. I also find it interesting that according to “Eliz”, men have no say in the matter, which I find rather sexist. Maybe she believes in immaculate or ******* conception without the use of sperm.

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