Appeals Court Overturns Arizona Law Banning Abortions After 20 Weeks

Appeals Court Overturns Arizona Law Banning Abortions After 20 Weeks

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Arizona’s law that bans abortions after 20 weeks violates other abortion rulings, including Roe v. Wade. A U.S. district judge upheld the law in July 2012, but the ACLU and Center for Reproductive Rights immediately filed a lawsuit.

Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon wrote the decision for the unanimous three-judge appellate panel. From LifeNews:

From the decision: “The panel reversed the district court’s order denying declaratory and injunctive relief to plaintiffs and held that the Constitution does not permit the Arizona legislature to prohibit abortion beginning at twenty weeks gestation, before the fetus is viable.”

It added: “The panel held that under controlling Supreme Court precedent, Arizona may not deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at any point prior to viability. The panel held that Arizona House Bill 2036, enacted in April 2012, effects such a deprivation by prohibiting abortion from twenty weeks gestational age through fetal viability. The panel held that the twenty-week law is therefore unconstitutional under an unbroken stream of Supreme Court authority, beginning with Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), and ending with Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007).”

“The Mother’s Health and Safety Act” banned abortions after 20 weeks except in medical emergencies and required an ultrasound at least 24 hours before the abortion. LifeNews reported many women changed their mind after the ultrasound. It also had a website that provided information about the baby and risks of abortion. Abortion doctors were also required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their facilities.

Federal Judge James Tellborg did acknowledge previous Supreme Court rulings to justify upholding the law. From LifeNews:

Judge James Teilborg’s ruling acknowledged prior Supreme Court rulings saying states may not prohibit abortions before viability. But he said the law “does not impose a substantial obstacle to previability abortions.” He said state’s have a legitimate reason to protect unborn children during that time.

“There is no question that the government may use its voice and its regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the life within the woman,” he wrote, quoting from the Supreme Court case that upheld the federal ban on partial-birth abortions.

The Arizona legislature approved the law, and Governor Jan Brewer made it official in April 2012. Supporters of the law claim it helps protect the mother’s health and stop unborn babies from feeling pain. The ruling applies only in the nine Western states under the jurisdiction of the court: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.