Arizona judge strikes down telemed abortion ban on technicality

Maricopa County Judge Richard Gama has ruled that Arizona’s 2012 law requiring abortion drugs only be administered in FDA-approved doses and only at clinics is in violation of the state Constitution.

However, his ruling was not contingent on Roe v. Wade, but rather on his determination that the law’s requirement that Arizona’s standards change whenever the federal Food and Drug Administration’s standards changed constituted an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to an outside body.

Center for Reproductive Rights staff attorney David Brown celebrated the ruling as a victory for “allow[ing] doctors to rely on evidence, on science, and their medical judgment.” Although by declining to make his decision based on any perceived legal right to abortion, Judge Gama left open the possibility the banning telemed abortions could still be permissible under a modified rationale.

The law, which also prohibits administering mifepristone after seven weeks of pregnancy, was already blocked from enforcement pending a federal lawsuit, which has been postponed indefinitely since the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is currently considering whether to appeal the ruling.

According to Planned Parenthood Arizona, over 40% of the abortions it performs are chemically-induced rather than surgical.

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