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Arizona's Mandatory Delay Law Burdens Women

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The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Arizona arguing that a new state restriction requiring a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion should be prohibited from taking effect, until its constitutionality is tested. This requirement is part of a law that restricts abortion, according to the Center. But this week, however, the court denied the Center’s request to temporarily block enforcement of this restriction.

What does this mean? According to the Center, these restrictions will reduce a woman’s access to abortion services, and doctors will be at risk of losing their licenses.

The judge in the case did admit that a payment provision within the law was ambiguous, and asked the Arizona Supreme Court for a definitive interpretation of the provision. According to this news story from the Center, “The payment provision would prohibit a physician or any healthcare provider from charging for any services provided to a patient who inquires about abortion until after she has received the required informed consent counseling, even if the patient has no plans to get an abortion.” It is rather confusing.

Planned Parenthood also filed a challenge against certain provisions of that same law in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix. That court granted a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of some parts of the law. Therefore, due to that injunction, women will not have to make two trips to a doctor’s office to obtain an abortion, something that would have been required if the law had gone into effect as it was written.

In its report, Defending Human Rights: Abortion Providers Facing Threats, Restrictions, and Harassment, the Center documents all the legal restrictions that are placed on abortion and details the extreme burdens that the “mandatory delay” laws inflict on women.

A heavy burden is placed on women who are required to make two trips to a healthcare provider – one to receive information mandated by the state, and one to actually have an abortion. The Center states that this is an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose abortion.

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