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Biased Counseling & Mandatory Delay

Arizona has a law requiring that a woman may not obtain an abortion until at least 24 hours after the attending physician or the referring physician tells her, orally and in person:  (1) the name of the physician who will provide the abortion; (2) the nature of the proposed procedure; (3) the immediate and long-term medical risks of the procedure; (4) the alternatives to the procedure; (5) the probable gestational age of the fetus; (6) the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the fetus; and (7) the medical risks of carrying the pregnancy to term.

In addition, at least 24 hours prior to the abortion, the attending physician, a referring physician, another qualified physician, a physician's assistant, a nurse, a psychologist, or a licensed behavioral health professional must deliver to the woman, orally and in person, a state-mandated lecture that includes the following statements: (1) that medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care; (2) that the "father" is liable for child support even if he has offered to pay for the abortion; (3) that public and private agencies and services are available to assist the woman during her pregnancy and after the birth of her child if she chooses not to have an abortion; (4) that she can withhold or withdraw her consent to the abortion at any time without affecting her right to future care or treatment and without the loss of any public benefits; (5) the department of health services maintains a website that describes the unborn child and lists the agencies that offer alternatives to abortion; and (6) the woman has a right to review the website and that a printed copy of the materials on the website will be provided to her free of charge if she chooses to review these materials.  Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 36-2153 (Enacted 2009, Last Amended 2012).

In September 2009, in Planned Parenthood Arizona v. American Association of Pro-Life OB-GYNs, a state superior court blocked portions of Arizona's biased-counseling/mandatory-delay law.  The decision allowed the state to enforce a 24-hour mandatory delay, but enjoined a provision that the state-mandated counseling and materials be provided in person, thereby eliminating a two-trip requirement.  However, in August 2011, an appellate court lifted the temporary injunction and allowed the law to go into effect. Planned Parenthood Arizona, Inc. v. American Association of Pro-Life OB-GYNs, CA-CV 09-0748 (Ariz. Ct. App. Aug. 11, 2011) (decision lifting preliminary injunction)

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