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Updated Sep 2, 2014 - 6:41 pm

Arizona abortion case headed to US Supreme Court

PHOENIX -- Arizona's top attorney has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the case against the state's strict abortion-medication regulations.

Attorney General Tom Horne filed a request asking the court to review the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to put on hold the regulations while a case against them by Planned Parenthood plays out in federal court in Tucson.

But that case is also now on hold at the state's request.

Horne has argued that Planned Parenthood did not have enough evidence to show the restrictions were detrimental. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not agree with Horne, instead saying that women would likely suffer irreparable harm if the rules were allowed to take effect. Horne has also said the organization cannot prove that regulations would place an undue burden on women's right to abortion.

The rules ban women from taking the most common abortion-inducing drug -- RU-486 -- after the seventh week of pregnancy. Women had been allowed to take the abortion pill through nine weeks of pregnancy.

The rules also require that the drug be administered only at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approved dosage and that both doses be taken at a clinic.

The dosage on the label, which was approved over a decade ago, is no longer routinely followed because doctors have found much lower dosages are just as effective when combined with a second drug, and women now usually take the second dose at home, avoiding what is often a long trip to a clinic.

Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said the move by Horne was politically motivated and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

"If you believe this is in the interest of the women of Arizona, well then go back to Tucson and make that case," Howard said.

A federal judge in Tucson, where the case is being heard, initially denied Planned Parenthood its request for an injunction. His ruling was overturned by the appeals court.

Planned Parenthood Arizona has said that about 800 women would have had to get surgical abortions in 2012 if the rules were in effect then.

The rules were approved by the Arizona State Legislature in 2012. Supporters say they protect women's health by mandating a federally approved protocol.

Horne has said Planned Parenthood did not have enough evidence to show the restrictions were detrimental, and that the organization cannot argue that they would place an undue burden on women's right to abortion. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its ruling granting a temporary injunction that women would likely suffer irreparable harm if the rules were allowed to take effect.

In a July 21 court filing asking the appellate court to hold off on the trial in Tucson, attorneys for Arizona argued that it's likely the nation's top court will overturn the appellate court's stay on the rules and that it makes more sense to go there first.

Horne argues in the Supreme Court petition that the lower court incorrectly interpreted the law when it found the rules would create an "undue burden" on women seeking abortions. He says that the rules wouldn't stop women from having medication-induced abortions and that surgical ones are more common in Arizona anyway.

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