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Appeals court extends stay blocking new restrictions on use of abortion drugs in Arizona

[JURIST] A federal appeals court panel ruled [order, PDF] on Tuesday to continue to block new regulations on the use of abortion medication while a case against them plays out in court. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] blocked the Arizona rules last week [JURIST report]. Attorney General Tom Horne [official website] asked the court [AP report] to allow them to take effect, arguing that Planned Parenthood Arizona did not have enough evidence to show that the regulations were detrimental. In rejecting Horne's argument, the three-judge panel said that patients will likely suffer irreparable harm if the rules take effect because they will immediately lose access to a common abortion procedure. The new rules, which restrict the distribution of the so-called "abortion pill" from nine weeks to seven weeks, are among the most stringent regulations on abortion medication in the country.

The debate over reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] has been contentious throughout the US and particularly combative in the state of Arizona. Last month the Arizona House of Representatives approved [JURIST report] a bill that would allow for unannounced inspections of licensed abortion clinics. In January the US Supreme Court declined to rule in Horne v. Isaacson [SCOTUSblog backgrounder], bypassing its opportunity to rule on Arizona's new ban of abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy. In August the Ninth Circuit ruled [JURIST report] against an Arizona law that would disqualify health providers which perform abortions, such as Planned Parenthood from receiving public funds.

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