Center for Reproductive Rights
U.S. District Court Judge James A. Teilborg has denied challengers' request to temporarily block a new abortion statute in Arizona. He also issued a final ruling upholding the law, which prohibits abortions occurring more than 20 weeks after a woman's last menstrual period. No exceptions are made except in cases of a life-threatening emergency. The law, the most stringent of its type in the nation, takes effect Thursday.
Arizona's law bans abortion at an earlier gestational stage than similar laws recently enacted in the country (at least nine states have some form of abortion ban) and it bans abortion at a critical time when most women undergo prenatal testing to evaluate their own health and the status of a pregnancy. The ban would force a physician caring for a woman with a high-risk pregnancy to wait until her condition imposes an immediate threat of death or major medical damage before offering her the care she needs. The ban also contains no exceptions for a woman who receives the devastating diagnosis that her fetus will not survive after birth, thereby forcing women to continue to carry to term fetuses they know will die.At the Center for Reproductive Rights, CEO Nancy Northrup stated in a press release:
“This law forces a sick, pregnant woman to wait until she is on the brink of disaster before her doctor can provide her medically appropriate care,” said Dan Pochoda, legal director of the ACLU of Arizona. “We will continue the fight to protect women's health and to ensure they can get the care they need.”
Today’s decision casts aside decades of legal precedent, ignoring constitutional protections for reproductive rights¬ that have been upheld by the United States Supreme Court for nearly 40 years and threatening women’s health and lives.The law is in direct conflict with U.S. Supreme Court decisions ruling that states can regulate how abortions are performed but cannot bar them before fetal viability, about 24 weeks. That would seem to mean the case will be appealed. But abortion-rights advocates have not been eager to appeal abortion rulings given the make-up of the current Supreme Court.
A woman facing devastating complications in her pregnancy must have every medical option available to her. Today this court has upheld instead arbitrary and dangerous limits based not on sound medical judgment or concern for women’s health, but on an extreme anti-choice agenda.
The pre-viability ban is one of two abortion laws passed this year by the Republican-led Arizona legislature and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. That law would ban taxpayer funding for non-abortion health care provided by abortion doctors and clinics. It also faces a court challenge.
The case is Paul A. Isaacson, M.D. v. Tom Horne, Attorney General of Arizona