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Planned Parenthood Ends Abortion Services in Rural Arizona

August 19, 2011

PHOENIX - Abortion services will no longer be available in rural Arizona.

After a court decision upholding new abortion restrictions last week, Planned Parenthood will only provide abortions at three locations in Phoenix and Tucson. Bryan Howard, Planned Parenthood Arizona president, says an estimated 200,000 Arizona women of childbearing age will no longer have abortion services within a reasonable distance.

"If you live in Flagstaff or you live in Winslow or any number of northern Arizona communities, instead of being able to drive a mile or even 30 miles, you're now going to have to do a round trip of 300 miles or more."

Abortion services will end at six Planned Parenthood locations, including Flagstaff, Yuma and Prescott Valley. Supporters of the new abortion law say their only concern is for the health and safety of the mother.

Howard says it's 95 percent certain that last week's court ruling will be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court. He says he's surprised the appeals court judge relied on federal precedent to decide what the Arizona Constitution means, especially when it's one of the few in the nation containing an explicit privacy protection.

"The state constitution actually says the government shall not interfere in the private affairs of its citizens. And there are precedents where the definition of "private affairs" has included medical decisionmaking."

Howard says 80 percent of Planned Parenthood's services involve family planning and women's health, and that existing clinics will continue to provide those services.

"Since another law upheld in last week's court decision allows pharmacists to refuse to fill a patient's prescriptions for birth control if the pharmacist has a moral objection, women can rest assured that they will get their birth control at Planned Parenthood."

The only other abortion providers in Arizona are private clinics in metropolitan Phoenix and Tucson.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ