Arizona’s governor signed an extreme abortion restriction bill on Monday, which women’s health advocates say effectively writes medical malpractice into law.
The new law, which passed the state’s Republican-controlled legislature last week, requires that doctors tell women that drug-induced abortions can be reversed. Experts said the provision—the first of its kind to pass in the U.S.—was medically unfounded.
“This law will force abortion providers to give patients information about medical abortion care that is unsubstantiated and not supported by evidence—even abortion opponents admit there is no medical proof to support this information,” said Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation. “This is unacceptable and not how safe medical care of any kind is provided.”
The LA Times reported that State Sen. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who voted against the legislation, said the provision “requires medical professionals to commit medical malpractice.”
“This is junk science. It is quack medicine,” she said Wednesday. “There is absolutely no evidence anywhere in any peer-reviewed journal that supports this as a valid medical procedure.”
According to MSNBC‘s Irin Carmon, who said the bill was part of “the next wave of abortion restrictions”:
Reproductive rights advocates charge that the law is part of coordinated attack on abortion rights across the country. Indeed, Arizona’s “abortion reversal” language is cribbed from Americans United for Life’s 2015 model legislation guide (pdf).
“It’s just a piece of the larger strategy—using any means possible to dissuade a woman from a decision that she’s already made,” Hayley Smith, associate advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, told ThinkProgress last week.
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Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, echoed that charge.
“Efforts to encourage women to ‘reverse’ mifepristone with progesterone are rooted solely in the desire by anti-choice extremists to control the reproductive choices of women and are not based in any evidence-based medicine or research,” Allen told Common Dreams in an email.
Arizona’s SB 1318 also bars insurance companies from providing abortion services to women who purchase medical coverage through the federal health-care exchange, except in cases of rape, incest, or where the woman’s life is endangered.
In a statement, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said the legislation “protects Arizona taxpayers” by ensuring public funds are “not used to subsidize abortions.”
Arizona already has severe abortion restrictions in place. According to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion policies around the country, a woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided. Counseling must be provided in person and must take place before the waiting period begins, thereby necessitating two separate trips to the facility.
On top of that, a woman must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion and the provider must offer her the option to view the image. The ultrasound must be provided at least 24 hours before the abortion.
In addition, the use of telemedicine for the performance of medication abortion is prohibited. Medication abortion must be provided using the FDA protocol, thereby preventing the use of a more common, simpler evidence-based regimen.
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