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Supreme Court Won't Review Arizona Law on Abortion-Inducing Drugs
From the Wall Street Journal of Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:24:31 EST

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said it wouldn’t review an Arizona law limiting the use of abortion-inducing drugs, leaving in place for now an injunction that blocks the state’s restrictions.

The high court, in a brief written order, declined to consider Arizona’s challenge to an appeals court ruling that blocked the state law from going into effect.

Abortion-rights supporters say the drugs expand women’s access to abortion because they are cheaper and less invasive than surgical abortions, can be taken privately and can be made available in areas where abortion providers are scarce.

The San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in June ordered a preliminary injunction against the Arizona law after finding abortion-rights challengers were likely to win on their claim that the restrictions imposed an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion.

The undue burden standard comes from key Supreme Court precedent in abortion cases. The Arizona litigation had attracted attention in part because the Ninth Circuit articulated a view of the standard that differed from other appeals courts in recent cases on state abortion restrictions.

The Supreme Court often will take cases to settle conflicting appeals-court rulings, but the Arizona case was in a preliminary stage, which may have hurt its chances for high court review.

Arizona and abortion-rights challengers disagree on how broadly the state law restricts the use of abortion-inducing drugs and lower courts haven’t issued a final judgment in the case.

The state said its law merely requires that drug-induced abortions follow protocol outlined by the Food and Drug Administration and protects women’s health. It also said the restrictions weren’t a burden because the option of a surgical abortion remained available.

Challengers said the Arizona law in reality banned all medication abortions. They said doctors have developed better methods for administering the drugs that don’t follow the original FDA protocol.

The FDA protocol permits use of the drugs through the seventh week of pregnancy. The more commonly used protocol allows it through the ninth week of pregnancy.

The Supreme Court let the Ninth Circuit ruling stand without comment.

Write to Brent Kendall at brent.kendall@wsj.com



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