The Newest Arizona Abortion Legislation Is Yet Another Extreme Example Of States Policing Women's Access
A trio of new bills just signed into law by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey contains some scary new limitations on abortion access for women seeking early options to end their pregnancy. The constraints on the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol, which are taken to end an early pregnancy, are in direct conflict with new Food and Drug Administration guidelines on how the drug is to be prescribed and taken by American women.
The new law restricts abortion access on several important fronts. First, women now have to take both doses of the RU-486 pill be taken at an FDA-approved clinic. Typically, the second dose of the pill would be taken at home, but now women must spend time and money coming back to the clinic to receive their second dose, as well as the recommended follow up appointment seven to 14 days after the first dose. Furthermore, RU-486 is now available only until seven weeks of pregnancy, while the new FDA regulation allows the drug to be used up until 10 weeks of pregnancy.
According to Planned Parenthood, surgical abortions can cost significantly more than RU-486, which could leave some Arizona women struggling to afford their abortion. The final provision of the bill, which calls for doses much higher than the newly established FDA regulations, can make the pill more expensive and worsen the side effects.
The compounding realities behind the new law mean that abortion could be incredibly difficult for some Arizona women to access. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the entire state of Arizona is down to only 17 abortion providers, and 67 percent of Arizona's counties don't have a provider. On top of that, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 20 percent of all Arizona women live below the poverty line, the fifth highest rate in the country. For those women, many of whom are the most likely to potentially need an abortion, financial cost could be an insurmountable obstacle to abortion care.
To Ducey's credit, the bill was in the works for some time and development of the provisions ran parallel to the FDA's new regulations, just released this week. In a signing statement, he acknowledged that the law may be amended later if necessary to comply with the FDA. “I recognize that given the unexpected actions of the FDA, some changes may need to be made in a later bill, and I stand ready to consider those changes when they reach my desk,” read the statement.
The other two bills Ducey signed on Thursday are not inherently abortion restrictive, but seem to target abortion providers. One bill mandates that abortion providers are prohibited from transferring fetal tissue for use in research, while the other prohibits state employees from directing charitable donations to abortion providers through paycheck deduction. According to The Los Angeles Times, Planned Parenthood of Arizona doesn't provide fetal tissue for research, but some of the unaffiliated clinics in Arizona could be potentially at risk of being targeted under this new law. Similarly, the paycheck deduction law may make it more difficult for abortion providers to garner donations and could increase costs necessary for fundraising.
The new laws in Arizona are just an example of the meticulous policing legislatures perform over abortion access — between 2011 and 2013, over 200 abortion restrictions were passed on the state level, and during the 2014 legislative session alone, state lawmakers introduced 335 abortion restrictions. The extreme lengths of abortion restrictions are concerning, not least for women who are trying to access abortion care in increasingly hostile environments.