Arizona Abortion Facility Regs Get Appeals Court Hearing

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 9, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Arizona Abortion Facility Regs Get Appeals Court Hearing

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
December 9, 2003

Phoenix, AZ ( — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments last week, as pro-life groups fight to keep abortion facility regulations in place in Arizona that would crack down on abortion businesses and keep women safe.

Denise Burke, staff counsel with Americans United for Life (AUL), presented the case of Tucson Women’s Clinic v. Eden — a case that has sought to overturn "Lou Anne’s Law," named in memory of a mother who died from complications of a late-term abortion.

"Lou Anne’s Law provides common-sense regulations that are standard procedures for other health care facilities. They ensure basic protections such as emergency care procedures, sanitation, proper maintenance of patient records, and staff-training standards that any outpatient clinic should have," said Burke.

"Right now, a dog has more protection in a veterinary clinic than a woman in an abortion clinic," Burke said.

In an interview with, Burke said the judges had been equally hard on both sides of the case during the hearing.

According to Burke, one of the issues the judges were particularly interested in were the requirements to have at least one physician present with admitting privileges to a hospital during an abortion. Opponents of the law argued that this could create a "veto" power by a hospital which could refuse to grant admitting privileges to certain individuals.

"Having such a regulation is no more a veto than requiring a licensed physician to perform the abortion," Burked explained.

Another point of interest for the judges at the hearing was how such a law would be enforced, and whether "warrant list inspections" of abortion facilities to ensure that procedures were being followed was lawful.

"We are hopeful the 9th Circuit Court will follow the 4th and 5th Circuits in upholding abortion provider regulations," said Burke.

If the 9th Circuit Court does follow suit, it could open the door for clinic regulations in all nine states in the Ninth Circuit — Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

Similar laws in other states such as South Carolina and Louisiana have already been responsible for shutting down abortion facilities.

"If they break from the 4th and 5th Circuit Courts, this case may reach the Supreme Court, said Burke, who does not expect an opinion until sometime next summer.

"Lou Anne’s Law" was named after Lou Anne Herron, a 32-year-old mother of two, who bled to death after her uterus was punctured in a Phoenix abortion facility in 1998. John Biskind, who performed the late-term abortion, was later convicted of manslaughter.

More recently, 18-year-old Holly Patterson died in September following an RU-486 abortion in Hayward, California. An autopsy report confirmed that she died from complications from an infection in her uterus caused by RU-486.

Diana Lopez, also of California, died in 2002 following a hemorrhage caused by a perforation of her cervix after an abortion at a Planned Parenthood Facility.

Burke noted that regulations are also required concerning patients’ rights.

As reported earlier this month, documents found in the trash outside a Lubbock, Texas Planned Parenthood had the name, social security number, address of clients and specific information about their diagnosis.

Though Planned parenthood claimed the documents could have been discarded by patients, one woman interviewed about the documents a local television station found said she had never seen the paper and didn’t dispose of it.

Related Links:
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