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State Health Officials Want Restricted Use of Abortion-Inducing Drugs


State health officials formally moved today to enact new abortion restrictions, including one that could make the procedure more expensive. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

State lawmakers adopted a series of legal changes in 2012. The most sweeping — a ban on abortions at 20 weeks — was struck down by federal courts. But, other provisions remain on the books, and now the health department has formally published the rules so the limits can take effect April 1. One requires RU-486, the abortion-inducing drug, to be administered only as authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. That will limit its use to the first seven weeks of pregnancy, not the nine weeks now practiced by Planned Parenthood. Cathi Herrod of the anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy, said the ban on off-label use is justified.

“The FDA is the governmental entity charged with overseeing the administration of abortion medication. They did a very tight rule. They did an extensive analysis. That’s what still stands. If there was a need to change the FDA protocol, then that’s up to the FDA to do. It’s not up to an individual abortion provider who has a vested interest in providing abortion medication to women,” Herrod said.

But, the issue is even more complex than that. Cynde Cerf of Planned Parenthood Arizona said the FDA protocol requires the use of three times as much drug as doctors have found appropriate. Aside from administering more drugs than necessary, she said the change will make the procedure more expensive for women.