Medical Experts and Civil Rights Groups File Lawsuit to Block New Arizona Abortion Ban

The Plaintiffs in the Case are Challenging an Arizona Law that Would Ban Some Abortions and Grant “Personhood” Status to Fetuses, Embryos, and Fertilized Eggs

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
August 17, 2021 11:15 am

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PHOENIX — Today, two Arizona physicians, the Arizona Medical Association, National Council of Jewish Women Arizona, and the Arizona National Organization of Women filed a lawsuit challenging two abortion restrictions passed in Arizona in April of this year. The groups are asking the court to block the restrictions before they are scheduled to take effect on September 29, 2021. Plaintiffs are represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Arizona.

The restrictions challenged today include:

  1. A ban on abortions based on a patient’s reason for seeking one, including when the abortion could be deemed due to a fetal condition or diagnosis. This ban targets pregnant people already facing complex considerations regarding fetal genetic conditions by taking away their constitutional right to choose previability abortion and driving a wedge between a patient and their provider; and
  1. A “personhood requirement” that would classify fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs as people starting at the point of conception for purposes of all Arizona law. The “personhood requirement” would criminalize important medical care that is essential for pregnant people and would place physicians and pregnant people at risk of arbitrary prosecution for a vast array of actions that could harm fetuses and embryos.

“Politicians should not get to decide what is an acceptable reason for seeking an abortion,” said Emily Nestler, Senior Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Patients are the ones best suited to decide what is best for themselves and their families, in consultation with their health care providers. This law is an afront to our Constitutional rights and our ability to make private decisions free from government intrusion. Yet, we are seeing these kinds of laws across the country. And this fall, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade altogether. If that happens, Arizona and nearly half the states in the country are poised to ban abortion entirely. We will keep fighting to make sure this does not happen.”

“Harmful bans like this one are part of a larger effort by anti-abortion extremists to stigmatize abortion and drive a wedge between patients and their doctors. This law invades standard prenatal care when the last thing patients need is the government making complex medical and personal decisions for them,” said Ruth Harlow, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “We’ll continue fighting this cruel policy to ensure that no one is forced to carry a pregnancy or become a parent against their will in Arizona or anywhere else in the country.”

“From the moment this bill (SB 1457) was proposed, NCJW Arizona has vigorously fought to defeat it because it violates fundamental human, civil and constitutional rights,” said Civia Tamarkin, president of the Arizona National Council for Jewish Women (NCJW). “This bill jeopardizes the lives of pregnant people, potentially criminalizing them, and prohibits doctors from providing evidence based medical care.”

“If Arizona lawmakers really cared about ‘life’, they’d be focusing on the rising COVID cases and high maternal mortality rate in our state,” said Laura Terech, State Coordinator for Arizona NOW. “But instead, they are spending their time taking away our reproductive rights. The people of Arizona deserve better.”

So far this year, states have signed more than 90 abortion restrictions into law, making it the worst year for abortion access on record. Arizona has existing abortion restrictions that make it harder for people to access abortion, including: a mandatory 24-hour waiting period for people seeking abortion; a ban on the use of telemedicine for medication abortion services; and a law banning advanced practice clinicians like nurse practitioners from providing abortion care.

Later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Center’s case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. In that case, Mississippi has asked the court to allow states to ban abortion before viability.


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