A panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Arizona's new abortion regulations, considered among the most stringent in the United States, could not take effect.
"The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay blocking the Arizona rules last week while it considered an appeal from Planned Parenthood of Arizona and abortion rights groups. The court extended the stay into a full injunction on Tuesday," reported The Associated Press.
"Attorney General Tom Horne had asked the appeals court to lift the stay, saying Planned Parenthood did not have enough evidence to show the restrictions were detrimental. But the panel decided to block the rules at least through May 12, when it will hear arguments in the case."
At issue in the case are regulations passed in 2012 that required abortion providers to adhere to FDA guidelines on prescribing and dispensing abortion-inducing drugs, like RU486. The measures banned the use of abortion-inducing drugs after the seventh week of pregnancy.
Attorneys for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers claim that requiring abortionists to follow the FDA's guidelines will harm women, because they will no longer be able to prescribe these drugs through the ninth week of pregnancy.
The panel's injunction came in response to a lower court's decision last week that allowed the new rules to take effect.
United States District Court Judge David C. Bury had refused to block the implementation of the new rules for the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Bury reasoned that the regulations "do not qualify as irreparable harm" to Planned Parenthood and the other plaintiffs, which includes the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Regarding the overall case, Cathi Herrod, president of the pro-life group Center for Arizona Policy, said in a statement that she was "confident" the rules will survive the lawsuit.
"Considering the Fifth and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals have already ruled on this issue and found it to be constitutional, I am confident that after considering the facts the court will uphold Arizona's law," said Herrod.
"The truth is Arizona women deserve better. The Arizona legislature passed this law to protect the health and safety of women, and ensure that this dangerous medication is distributed only as the FDA approved."