Federal Judge Blocks Arizona Law Recognizing ‘Personhood’ of Unborn Children

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A federal judge Monday blocked an Arizona law recognizing the civil rights of unborn children, calling the law “unconstitutionally vague.”

The 2021 law that required the state to interpret all laws as granting civil rights to unborn children was blocked by U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Rayes — an appointee of former President Barack Obama — as he believed the term “personhood” was too vague.

“A law is unconstitutionally vague if its application is so unclear that people of ordinary intelligence cannot figure out in advance how to comply with it,” Rayes wrote. He appeared also to be worried that granting unborn babies the same rights as born persons may define abortion as homicide.

Many conservatives agree that abortion should be treated like homicide.

Arizona laws “shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge, on behalf of an unborn child at every stage of development, all rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of this state,” the measure states, in addition to barring women from getting abortions due to the race, sex, or genetic abnormality of the baby.

The 2021 law was previously blocked in part by a U.S. District Court for its provision banning abortions for children with survivable genetic abnormalities.

Rayes pointed out issues with the “personhood” provision that he seemed unable to square with Arizona’s abortion laws.

The Grand Canyon State has two laws partially prohibiting abortion, one from 1901 that bans almost all abortions and another signed this year banning abortions after 15 weeks — both of which allow for abortions if the baby is deemed a threat to the life of the mother.

He said the due process rights of abortionists would be violated under the law as it remains unclear if abortions that are legal in Arizona would in fact be illegal under the “personhood” language.

For Rayes, even legal abortions may be considered a crime under the “personhood” language. Indeed, abortionists might be “left to guess whether their conduct could be criminalized under a maximalist application” of the “personhood” language.

“When the punitive and regulatory weight of the entire Arizona code is involved, plaintiffs should not have to guess at whether their conduct is on the right or the wrong side of the law,” Rayes said.

Arizona Solicitor General Kate Sawyer said in court, however, that the “personhood” law could not be used to bring charges against abortionists.

Pro-abortion activists were pleased with the ruling.

Center for Reproductive Rights lawyer Jessica Sklarsky said, “The court made the right decision today by blocking this law from being used to create an unthinkably extreme abortion ban.”

“The Supreme Court’s catastrophic decision overturning Roe v. Wade has unleashed chaos on the ground, leaving Arizona residents scrambling to figure out if they can get the abortion care they need,” she continued.

Infamous abortion case Roe v. Wade was recently overturned, returning the ability to regulate abortions to state governments.

Kansas, Georgia, Missouri, and Alabama also have personhood protections for the unborn.

Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.


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