Federal Judge Upholds Callous Arizona Abortion Ban, Allows Law to Take Effect August 2

Order bucks previous U.S. Supreme Court rulings, green lights unconstitutional law banning pre-viability abortions with severely limited exceptions to protect pregnant women’s lives and health

(PRESS RELEASE) Pregnant women’s constitutionally-protected reproductive rights will be severely curtailed later this week—ultimately placing their lives and health at grave risk—following a federal court decision upholding Arizona’s unconstitutional pre-viability ban on abortion to take effect.
 
U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg today denied a request to temporarily block the law from taking effect on August 2 and also issued a final ruling upholding the statute. The law bans all abortion procedures at 20 weeks from a woman’s last menstrual period (LMP) without any exceptions for a pregnant woman’s life or health unless she is experiencing a dire and possibly life-threatening emergency.
 
The Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the lawsuit, Paul A. Isaacson, M.D. v. Tom Horne, Attorney General of Arizona, on July 12 in the U.S. District Court of Arizona on behalf of three physicians who perform abortions and serve women with high-risk pregnancies—arguing that the Arizona law violates the U.S. Constitution by banning pre-viability abortions.
 
The Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU plan to immediately file an emergency appeal of today’s decision to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to prevent the law from going into effect.
 
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
 
“Today’s decision casts aside decades of legal precedent, ignoring constitutional protections for reproductive rights¬ that have been upheld by the United States Supreme Court for nearly 40 years and threatening women’s health and lives.
 
“A woman facing devastating complications in her pregnancy must have every medical option available to her. Today this court has upheld instead arbitrary and dangerous limits based not on sound medical judgment or concern for women’s health, but on an extreme anti-choice agenda.
 
“Anyone concerned with the erosion of constitutional rights in the U.S. and the intrusion of government into the lives and private decisions of individual citizens should be profoundly disturbed by today’s decision.”
 
The measure passed in April bans abortion earlier than similar laws recently enacted in the country and at a critical time when most women undergo prenatal testing to evaluate their own health and the status of the pregnancy.
 
The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that states cannot ban abortion before viability. The Court has also found that any restrictions on abortion must include an exception for when an abortion is “necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health” of a woman.
 
The Center is representing Paul A. Isaacson, M.D., with Janet Crepps as lead counsel and, as co-counsel, Janie Schulman and Nancy Thomas of Morrison & Foerster LLP and Chris LaVoy of LaVoy and Chernoff. The ACLU represents two additional Arizona women’s reproductive health specialists, with Talcott Camp as lead counsel and the ACLU of Arizona serving as co-counsel.