A state judge in Arizona declared a law restricting medication abortions unconstitutional, saying the state legislature overstepped its authority in passing the measure three years ago.
Abortion providers currently use evidence-based guidance when prescribing the abortion-causing drug to women, allowing them to take it up to nine weeks of pregnancy and requiring them to visit a physician twice. The 2012 law, which has been blocked while it goes through the court system, requires providers to follow the Food and Drug Administration's guidance, which says women can't be more than seven weeks into their pregnancy and must visit the doctor three times when taking the drug.
Judge J. Richard Gama said the law violates the Arizona Constitution because by passing it, the state legislature was telling the FDA how abortion-inducing medications should be prescribed. The medication is used for about half of all abortions performed in the state.
Abortion rights supporters cheered the ruling, although they acknowledged that a federal court lawsuit challenging the same law has yet to be decided. That challenge is on hold as the state challenge works its way through the courts.
"Today's ruling is one more key victory in ensuring Arizona women continue to have access to all available options when it comes to their health, safety and rights," said David Brown, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "Women's constitutional rights are not up for debate and facts must always prevail over politics."