Federal Judge To Hear Arguments Over Radical Arizona Abortion Law

Groups seeking to overturn part of Arizona’s latest abortion-restricting law will argue before a federal judge on Wednesday, just a week before doctors who perform the procedure face criminal penalties, including sentences of prison under certain circumstances.

The measure – passed by the Republican-majority legislature and signed by Governor Doug Ducey in April – criminalizes for medical providers terminating a pregnancy on the basis of genetic conditions such as Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis.

The sweeping new law also gives civil rights to fetuses at any stage of development and provides for abortions based on genetic conditions only if those conditions are considered “fatal”.

The law:Arizona Governor Doug Ducey Enters Anti-Abortion Bill

Groups challenging two provisions of the law include the Arizona National Council of Jewish Women, the Arizona National Organization for Women, the Arizona Medical Association, and the Center for Reproductive Rights and American Civil Liberties Union, whose lawyers represent two doctors named as plaintiffs in the case. .

The groups argue that the law’s provisions on genetic conditions and the granting of civil rights are unconstitutional and unenforceable. They say it effectively leaves medical professionals and patients censored when it comes to discussing medical decisions.

The law, enacted through Senate Bill 1457, also created a gray area as to whether fetuses have civil rights in all aspects of state law, or just related to abortion laws. , and what conditions are considered “lethal,” the groups argued in court records. .

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich defends the law, which says it should stand because it protects against discrimination based on genetic conditions, much like a 2011 Arizona law that prohibits parents to request abortions based on gender or race.

Lawyers for the defense groups and the Brnovich office are expected to present their arguments in the case on Wednesday at 2 p.m. US District Court Judge Douglas L. Rayes is handling the case.

Advocates want Rayes to prevent the law from going into effect on September 29.

National debate on abortion intensifies

Abortion rights activists gather in a rally to protest the abortion ban at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix on May 21, 2019.

The legal challenge is taking place in a political landscape that could undo decades of precedent. Ducey and 11 other Republican governors have urged the conservative-majority US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the case that lays the foundations for abortion rights.

Meanwhile, Arizona lawmakers pushed for a dozen abortion-restricting bills in their last legislative session earlier this year, and indicated their interest in duplicating a controversial Texas law that allows civilians to demand fines against doctors who perform abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Arizona’s law came after months of intense debate in the legislature, including last-minute procedural maneuvers the bill’s sponsor used to revive the measure.

Supporters insisted the legislation would protect Arizona’s most vulnerable, preventing “modern eugenics” by ensuring equal treatment for babies with genetic diseases. The life of an unborn child is just as important as the life of its mother, Republicans argued.

Obstetricians and gynecologists have come forward to testify that they are afraid to provide pregnant patients with full information about their choices.

And Democratic lawmakers have accused supporters of the bill of using people with disabilities as pawns, saying the state essentially leaves families of children with genetic conditions to fend for themselves once those children are born.

This is a developing story. Check back with azcentral for updates

Contact reporter Stacey Barchenger at [email protected] or 480-416-5669. Follow her on Twitter.

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