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Court halts enforcement of Arizona abortion drug curbs

(Reuters) - A U.S. federal appeals court on Tuesday temporarily blocked Arizona from enforcing regulations that restrict access to abortion-inducing drugs by prohibiting off-label uses.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a preliminary injunction stopping enforcement of the statute while opponents, including Planned Parenthood, sought to overturn it in court.

The FDA has approved RU-486, the so-called "abortion pill," for use within seven weeks' gestation. Doctors who have prescribed it later than that have made an off-label use that is not allowed under the Arizona rules.

At issue in this case is a physician's discretion to go "off-label" and use the drug as the doctor believes best in the circumstances.

Planned Parenthood and the Tucson Women's Center sued to overturn the rules and sought a temporary restraining order to stop them from going into effect while the lawsuit was being litigated.

They argued that the regulations could force women to travel to other states or prevent them from getting the procedure altogether.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Gunna Dickson)

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