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Supreme Court won't hear appeal of Ariz. medical abortion law

A U.S. appeals court said Arizona did not show how its law regulating medical abortions would protect women's health.

By Frances Burns

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to review a lower court decision that barred Arizona from enforcing limits on medical abortions.

The Arizona law, passed in 2012, requires doctors to follow Food and Drug Administration protocols when prescribing RU-486 or mifepristone. Critics of the law and similar ones adopted in other states say that protocols worked out since RU-486 was approved by the FDA are safer, more effective and involve smaller amounts of drugs.

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After a district judge upheld the Arizona law, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that it places too heavy a burden on women seeking medical abortions. The Supreme Court said it would not hear the state's appeal of that decision.

Two other appeals courts have allowed Texas and Ohio to enforce their laws. That means the high court will eventually have to take on the issue.

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The justices gave no reason for refusing to hear Arizona's appeal.

Last year, the court agreed to hear an appeal on an Oklahoma law regulating medical abortions. But the state Supreme Court threw out the law, finding it was so broad it could bar most medical abortions, and the U.S. court then decided to reject the case.

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Under the FDA guidelines, two doses off R-486 must be given on different days, both under medical supervision. Some doctors now administer a single dose of RU-486, followed by a dose of misoprostol taken at home 24 to 48 hours later.

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The FDA also said medical abortions could only be allowed in the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Advocates say the mifepristone-misoprostol combination can be used up to the ninth week.

The 9th Circuit said Arizona provided no evidence its law protects women's health. In its appeal to the Supreme Court, Attorney General Tom Horne said the state does not have to justify requiring doctors to follow FDA guidelines.

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