High Court: Arizona can enforce abortion ban for genetic reasons | Arizona News

By BOB CHRISTIE, Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday allowed enforcement of a 2021 Arizona law that allows prosecutors to bring felony charges against doctors who knowingly terminate pregnancies solely because the fetuses have a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome.

This decision follows the June 24 High Court ruling that women do not have a constitutional right to obtain an abortion. This has no immediate effect as providers in Arizona halted all abortions following last Friday’s Supreme Court ruling.

Providers, including Planned Parenthood Arizona, immediately stopped performing abortions because they feared pre-state law would criminalize performing an abortion or assisting in any way unless the life of the mother is threatened. It was unclear whether that law could be enforced, but Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Wednesday it could.

The move puts him at odds with GOP Gov. Doug Ducey, who has repeatedly said a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy he signed in March prevails. His spokesman, CJ Karamargin, said Wednesday night that the governor’s office is reviewing the decision and had no immediate comment.

political cartoons

The 2021 law specifically said it did not overturn the total ban on abortion that had been in place for at least 11 years before Arizona became a state in 1912. The Republican-controlled legislature removed another part of this law allowing women to be sentenced to one to five years. in jail if found guilty of having an abortion.

Democrats and abortion rights advocates criticized Brnovich’s decision.

“Mark Brnovich just took us back to 1901,” the Democratic nominee for Attorney General Kris Mayes said Thursday. “And I think that should outrage everyone. This is well outside the position of most Arizonans on this issue.

“And it’s also unconstitutional,” she added. “I believe all of these laws violate Arizona’s confidentiality clause.”

Mayes said she was not aware of any challenges to abortion restrictions under that part of the state constitution. But she has vowed never to sue women in Arizona for breaking abortion-restricting laws if elected in November.

In Thursday’s ruling on the genetic abnormality, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the Phoenix federal judge who blocked it last September. U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes said in his ruling that the law’s criminal provisions were likely unconstitutionally vague, saying it’s unclear at what point in the process doctors can be said to be aware of the existence of a fetal genetic anomaly.

When the law was debated last year, Republican Senator Nancy Barto said children with Down syndrome and other genetic abnormalities deserved protection and could live “a productive and wonderful life”.

“There are an incredible number of people who appreciate these children who came into the world with a genetic abnormality like Down (syndrome) or other serious genetic problems,” said Barto, a Republican from Phoenix who sponsored the project. law.

“And once they were born, they meant so much to their families, to the world. They went on to live productive and wonderful lives. That’s what we’re protecting here.

Dr. Jill Gibson, medical director of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said in an interview Thursday that the law puts parents in a dilemma. A woman may feel pressured to lie to her abortion provider about her reasons for getting the procedure, Gibson said.

“Any time there’s a breach in a patient’s ability to speak openly and honestly with their doctor, bad things are going to happen,” she said. “Very bad things are going to happen – we’re not going to be able to take care of patients the way we need to take care of them.”

And families caring for children with severe disabilities face Arizona’s poorly funded social service programs, Gibson said.

“These fetuses that are born with major abnormalities and abnormalities and require lifelong medical care, who is going to provide that care?”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments are closed.