Arizona clinic finds workaround for abortion pill ban

PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix abortion clinic has found a way for patients who can end their pregnancies using a pill to get the drug quickly without breaking a resurrected Arizona law that bans most abortions. abortions.

Under the arrangement that began on Monday, patients will undergo an ultrasound in Arizona, get a prescription via a telehealth appointment with a California doctor, then have it mailed to a post office in a California border town to pick up, all for free.

While not as straightforward as it was before an Arizona judge ruled a pre-state law criminalizing nearly all abortions could be enforced nearly two weeks ago, the process avoids a trip overnight stay in a major California city with an abortion clinic. And it’s more accessible than the previous workaround used by Camelback Family Planning in Phoenix, which involved having a doctor in Sweden prescribe the pills and a pharmacy in India shipping them to Arizona. It could take up to three weeks.

Ashleigh Feiring, a nurse at the clinic, said the cost of the pills will be covered by the Arizona Abortion Fund, which helps women pay for out-of-state abortion access. Women can use an abortion pill up to the 12th week of pregnancy. Pills and surgical abortions were legal until about 24 weeks until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June and authorizes states to ban all abortions.

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration permanently scrapped rules requiring in-person consultations with a provider before women can receive a medical abortion, allowing women to have a telehealth appointment and receive the pills by mail.

But Arizona has a law that prohibits mailing the pills, as well as a law that prohibits all abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger. This led the clinics to make arrangements with clinics in New Mexico and California to treat patients who wanted access to the abortion pill as well as those who needed a surgical abortion for more than 12 weeks.

At Camelback Family Planning, Feiring said she’s not worried about doing ultrasounds and post-abortion care for those using the pill for abortion.

“We don’t provide abortions,” Feiring said. “We’re just giving people information.”

Those who received the pills in the mail in one of three California cities along the Arizona border picked them up at the post office and took the first medication there before returning home and taking the second medication. They would return to the clinic in about a week for a follow-up exam.

Cathi Herrod, president of the conservative social organization Center for Arizona Policy and architect of many of Arizona’s tough abortion restrictions, criticized the proposal.

“The abortion pill plan shows a staggering disregard for the health and well-being of the mother,” Herrod said.

Despite FDA approval, Herrod argues that abortion pills have significant consequences and that women need an in-person examination and follow-up care.

“I’m not surprised that the abortion industry cares more about its results and selling pills than it still cares about women,” she said.

Arizona is among several Republican-led states that ban the delivery of abortion pills through the mail. It is one of 14 states with near-total abortion bans that the Supreme Court allowed when it struck down Roe.

About 13,000 Arizona women aborted last year, about half with the pill. Most occurred before the 15th week of pregnancy.

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