In yet another lawsuit brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners to block a state abortion ban, a federal district court judge temporarily blocked Arizona’s ban on abortion for patients with fetal diagnoses, just hours before it was to take effect. However, another provision of the Arizona law that grants “personhood” rights to fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs was allowed to take effect.
“People should not be interrogated about their reason for seeking an abortion. There are no right or wrong reasons,” said Emily Nestler, Senior Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We’re incredibly relieved that this ‘reason ban’ will be blocked while this case continues. This is just one of the more than 90 abortion restrictions passed at the state level this year, including Texas’ abortion ban, which is currently wreaking havoc. Abortion access in the U.S. is in very real peril. We will keep fighting this ban and the personhood requirement until they are struck down for good.”
The blocked provision adds a fetal diagnosis reason ban to Arizona’s existing sex and race reason bans enacted in 2011. The ban would have targeted pregnant people already facing complex decisions regarding fetal genetic conditions, taking away their constitutional right to choose a pre-viability abortion.
The law’s “personhood provision” which the court allowed to take effect, purports to give fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs with the same “rights and privileges” as “other persons” in Arizona for purposes of all Arizona law. This sweeping change threatens both health care providers and pregnant women with criminal liability for a wide range of actions that could impact a pregnancy. While the Court failed to enjoin the personhood provision at this stage of the proceedings, it did not rule out the possibility that this provision could ultimately be deemed unlawful, particularly if or when it is used to violate Arizonans constitutional rights.
The case was filed on August 17 by the Center for Reproductive Rights, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and ACLU of Arizona on behalf of two Arizona physicians, the Arizona Medical Association, National Council of Jewish Women Arizona, and the Arizona National Organization of Women.
Abortion Care is Already Extremely Difficult to Access in Arizona
Arizona has several existing abortion restrictions that make it difficult 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. If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, Arizona and nearly half the states in the country are poised to ban abortion entirely.
See the Center’s “What if Roe fell?” abortion laws map for more information on Arizona’s abortion restrictions.
The Center and its partners continue to challenge unconstitutional abortion bans, including Texas’s ban on abortion after around six weeks of pregnancy that has eliminated the vast majority of abortion access in the state. In that case, a coalition of Texas abortion providers, abortion funds, doctors and other organizations, are again asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene due to the great harm the ban is currently causing patients in Texas.
On Dec. 1, 2021, the 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. If that happens, Arizona and nearly half the states in the country are poised to ban abortion entirely.