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Advocates, opponents speak out on appealed abortion bill

PHOENIX -- Planned Parenthood - Arizona filed an appeal Tuesday after a federal judge refused to temporarily block the nation's most stringent restrictions on the use of abortion drugs.

The organization's motion with the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals comes the same day Arizona's landmark regulations took effect.

U.S. District Judge David C. Bury had considered temporarily blocking the new rules with an injunction Monday, but he decided against such action just hours before the regulations went into effect.

"The judge's ruling simply means that Planned Parenthood has to restrict usage of the drugs to only the first 49 days of the pregnancy," said Cathi Herrod, the head of the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative group.

The previous restriction was nine weeks.

Planned Parenthood said the laws are unconstitutional and infringe on a woman's ability to have an abortion.

"This makes medication abortion off limits for women in the eighth and ninth weeks of pregnancy and requires them to have surgical abortions," said Bryan Howard, head of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. "It requires yet another visit in the abortion health care process, and it requires patients to take a higher dose of one medication and a lower dose of another medication than any medical professional today would recommend. It is not the best healthcare."

Howard said that even though the judge ruled against pro-choice supporters, he sided with them in some ways.

"The judge, in his ruling, acknowledged that the way health care providers administer medication abortion today is, indeed, preferable," Howard said. "But that was not enough reason to prevent the legislature from requiring women to use the out of date protocol."

Herrod, whose group is against abortion, said that Tuesday's ruling is a victory.

"The judge's ruling is a good thing for Arizona women," she said. "When Planned Parenthood loses, women win. The abortion pill has been found to bring significant health risks to women."

With Tuesday's appeal, Herrod does not believe that the fight over those new rules is over.

"The next likely step will be a full hearing on the bill's merits before the judge, probably in the fall," she said.

Herrod is calling on Planned Parenthood to drop its lawsuit. Howard said that's not going to happen.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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