U.S. District Judge Reviews Request to Block Arizona Abortion Law
PHOENIX – An attorney for several abortion providers in Arizona on Wednesday urged a federal judge to block new state law that would allow prosecutors to charge doctors who knowingly terminate a pregnancy only because the fetus has a genetic defect such as Down syndrome.
The law, which is due to go into effect on Wednesday, is so vague it would deter doctors from performing an abortion anytime there is any indication the fetus may have a genetic problem for fear of criminal prosecution, Emily argued. Nestler, Senior Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
âThere are women in Arizona whose access to abortion will be completely cut off,â Nestler said. âThe burden is therefore more than substantial. It is absolute for these patients.
A state attorney 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.
“This sends a message to the medical community that the state strongly believes that physicians should not perform intentionally discriminatory abortions,” said Michael Catlett, deputy solicitor general in the office of Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
Catlett argues the law upholds the state’s interest in protecting the disability community from discrimination, prevents doctors from coercing women into aborting fetuses suspected of having genetic problems, and upholds the integrity of the profession medical.
Emboldened by the shift to the right of the United States Supreme Court under the administration of former President Donald Trump, Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have embraced efforts to further restrict or outright ban the abortion.
States have passed more than 90 new abortion restrictions this year, the most in decades, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights.
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.
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 pregnant – before some people know that they are pregnant.
In the Arizona case, U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, did not say how he would govern. He brutally roasted the two avocados for over two hours.
He focused in particular on inconsistencies in the law. It allows criminal charges against doctors who perform an abortion based “only” on a genetic defect, but also requires the doctor to sign a form stating that the abortion was not requested “because” of genetics – in fact. omitting the word only.
It also forces doctors to tell women that Arizona law “prohibits abortion based on the sex or race of the unborn child or because of a genetic defect” – which Catlett admitted to be an abortion. “inartificial” description of what the law actually does.
The judge said this would lead women to believe it is illegal for them to have an abortion due to a genetic defect, while the law only applies to doctors and specifically blocks charges against women seeking an abortion.
“Are you saying that the woman should talk to a lawyer as well as her doctor so that she can understand what her doctor is telling her?” Rayes asked Catlett.
Nestler said women have the right to speak candidly with their doctors, but would be barred by law. And she argued that the law is unclear as to when doctors could face criminal charges.
Nestler asked if a doctor would be charged, for example, if he performs an abortion on a woman who says she cannot afford to raise a disabled child.
The Arizona lawsuit challenges key provisions of SB1457, which was signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in April after it was passed by the GOP-controlled legislature in party line votes.
The measure allows prosecutors to lay felony charges against doctors who perform abortions when they know it is solely because of a genetic defect in the fetus. Anyone who helps raise funds or pay for such an abortion could also be charged. Doctors can also lose their medical license, and any health or mental health professional who fails to report such an abortion could be fined $ 10,000.
The lawsuit also challenges a “personality” provision that states that the state will interpret all laws to confer human rights on unborn children, subject to the Constitution and United States Supreme Court rulings.
Nestler said it was not at all clear what this meant and how it would be applied across the state’s legal apparatus.
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 now under review by the entire 8th United States Court of Appeals.