A key part of Arizona’s genetic defect abortion law blocked
A federal judge blocked a key part of a new Arizona law that would have allowed prosecutors to lay felony charges against doctors who knowingly terminate a pregnancy only because the fetuses have a genetic defect such as syndrome. Down
PHOENIX – A judge blocked a key part of a new Arizona law that would have allowed prosecutors to lay felony charges against doctors who knowingly terminate a pregnancy only because the fetuses have a genetic defect such as the syndrome from Down.
U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes also on Tuesday rejected another provision that would have allowed prosecutors to lay charges against anyone who helped raise funds or pay for abortions performed purely because of a genetic defect.
The judge said the penal provisions of the law were likely unconstitutionally vague, explaining that it is not clear at what point in the process doctors can be said to be aware of the existence of a fetal genetic defect.
Rayes also said that another part of the law made an incorrect statement saying that the law requires providers to tell women that the law prohibits abortions because of a genetic defect.
The judge clarified that the new law did not ban abortions because of a fetal genetic defect, nor did it necessarily prohibit doctors from performing such abortions. Instead, the law would ban doctors from performing such abortions if they know the woman’s motive, Rayes said.
The decision, however, brought a partial victory for opponents of abortion.
The judge refused to suspend a “personality” provision that the state will interpret all laws to confer human rights on unborn children, subject to the Constitution and US Supreme Court rulings.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who has defended the law against the court challenge, did not respond to an appeal seeking comment on the ruling.
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, which sponsored the legislation, said the decision was only the first review of the law by the courts.
“We remain confident that the law will be observed and declared fully enforceable,” Herrod said in a statement.
The High Court signaled in May its willingness to reconsider Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling establishing a national right to abortion before a fetus can survive outside a mother’s womb, typically around 24 weeks.
And this month, judges refused to block a Texas law that bans abortions once medical professionals can detect heart activity, which is typically around six weeks after a pregnancy begins – before some people know they are pregnant.
Down syndrome abortion bans have recently gained traction in several GOP-controlled states, such as Arizona and South Dakota.
A three-judge federal appeals panel suspended a sweeping Missouri law of 2019 that includes some of the same provisions as Arizona’s, including a ban on abortions based on genetic abnormalities. This decision is currently under review by the entire 8th United States Court of Appeals.
Arizona’s ruling on the law came just eight hours before it went into effect. The measure was signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in the spring after it was passed by the GOP-controlled legislature in party line votes.
The Center for Reproductive Rights and other groups that challenged the law said it was so vague it would deter doctors from performing abortions any time there is any indication the fetus might have a genetic problem. for fear of criminal prosecution.
State attorneys argued the measures defended Arizona’s interest in protecting the disability community from discrimination, preventing doctors from coercing women into aborting fetuses suspected of having genetic problems and preserving the integrity of the medical profession.
Lawyers for the state have also argued that the law will not prevent any woman from having an abortion, although she may have to refuse to tell her doctor why she wants to terminate her pregnancy.