Tuesday, the toughest law in the country on abortion drugs took effect in Arizona. The measure — which was passed by the state legislature in 2012 but was temporarily blocked by a federal trial– requires doctors to prescribe the most common abortion pill, RU468 or mifepristone, exactly as stated on its 14-year-old FDA label. Studies by the World Health Organization and independent scientists have since found that the drug works just as well at a third of the original dose. It can also be used safely nine weeks into pregnancy, rather than just seven as the label says. The WHO and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have updated their guidelines accordingly, with lower doses and fewer doctor visits than suggested by the FDA.
By requiring health care providers to adhere to the outdated etiquette, Arizona will make medical abortions — which can be done sooner than other readily available options — more expensive and harder to access. Arizona law also requires a doctor to be present when the pills are taken. Women’s health advocates say this will prevent some women in rural areas, where doctors and abortion clinics are scarce, from accessing abortions.
Arizona isn’t the only state to crack down on abortion drugs. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in recent years at least 39 states have passed bills restricting access. Below is a state-by-state breakdown.
A State-by-State LOOK at Restrictions on Abortive Drugs
Hover over a state to see the distribution of restrictions in place. Source: Guttmacher Institute.