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Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue Arizona to block abortion law

By
Amy R. Connolly
Planned Parenthood and other women rights groups filed a lawsuit challenging an Arizona law that requires doctors to tell patients medically induced abortions can be reversed. Photo from Shutterstock
Planned Parenthood and other women rights groups filed a lawsuit challenging an Arizona law that requires doctors to tell patients medically induced abortions can be reversed. Photo from Shutterstock

PHOENIX, June 5 (UPI) -- Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights and abortion providers filed a federal lawsuit Thursday to block a new state law that requires doctors to tell patients medically induced abortions can be reversed.

The law, scheduled to take effect July 3, requires doctors to tell patients that high doses of hormones may counter the effects of abortion pills, a provision hotly debated during the legislative review of the law. Supporters say it is possible to reverse abortion if acted on quickly. Critics say it forces physicians to lie to women and rely on "junk science."

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"This law inserts politics and junk science into every exam room in Arizona and that's why we're fighting it," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

While Arizona abortion providers use both surgical and medical abortion methods, about a quarter are medical. The most commonly used form of medical abortion is a combination of two prescription drugs, mifepristone, also known as RU-486, and misoprostol. Both are used in the first 10 weeks or so of pregnancy.

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"There is no credible evidence that a medication abortion can be reversed," the lawsuit states. "Indeed, once an abortion has occurred, whether by medication abortion or by any other means, a woman is no longer pregnant, which cannot be reversed."

The lawsuit claims Arizona lawmakers relied on testimony from Dr. George Delgado, a San Diego family physician who claims the use of the hormone progesterone may reverse medical abortions. In a 2012 study published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, Delgado detailed the case of six women who used the hormone after taking mifepristone but did not take misoprostol. Four of the six women carried their babies to term with no apparent birth defects.

Several medical organizations, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, refute the claim as unreliable.

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"Claims of medication abortion reversal are not supported by the body of scientific evidence, and this approach is not recommended in ACOG's clinical guidance on medication abortion. There are no ACOG guidelines that support this course of action," the group said in a written statement.

The lawsuit claims the Arizona law violates providers' constitutional rights by forcing them to go against their medical judgement and violate their medical ethics.

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