Federal court strikes down Arizona abortion ban

The panel called the abortion law unconstitutional "under a long line of invariant Supreme Court precedents"

By Katie McDonough

Published May 22, 2013 1:09PM (EDT)

  (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
(AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

A federal appellate panel has struck down an Arizona law banning abortion at 20 weeks, calling it unconstitutional “under a long line of invariant Supreme Court precedents” guaranteeing a woman's right to an abortion.

The ban would also have severely restricted emergency abortion care for women with high-risk pregnancies, forcing doctors to wait until a woman's condition posed an immediate threat of death or catastrophic damage before offering her appropriate medical care.

In its opinion, the panel rejected what they deemed an undue legislative intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship, as the New York Times reports:

“While the state may regulate the model and manner of abortion prior to fetal viability, it may not proscribe a woman from electing abortion, nor may it impose an undue burden on her choice through regulation,” wrote Judge Marsha S. Berzon, the opinion’s author.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations challenged the law in federal court last year on behalf of three physicians and their patients. On Tuesday, Talcott Camp, deputy director of the A.C.L.U.’s reproductive freedom project, welcomed the court’s opinion. “Politicians do not have the right to interfere in serious and personal decisions that should only be made by a woman with the help of her family and her doctor,” he said...

The decision applies to Arizona and the eight other Western states under the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction, including Idaho, where similar legislation had already been deemed unconstitutional.



Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Abortion Arizona North Dakota Reproductive Rights Roe V. Wade Unconstitutional Laws