(Revised 9.22.2021) The Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners have filed a lawsuit challenging two Arizona abortion restrictions passed in April 2021. One provision, which targets pregnant people facing complex considerations regarding their medical care, would ban abortion if there is any indication that the patient’s reason is a fetal condition or diagnosis. The other restriction would grant “personhood” rights to fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs in a manner that threatens to criminalize essential medical care for pregnant patients and places them at risk of arbitrary prosecution for a vast array of actions that could harm an embryo or fetus.
Filed in federal district court in Arizona, the lawsuit aims to secure a preliminary injunction before the measures take effect on September 29, 2021. The plaintiffs in the suit—two Arizona physicians, the Arizona Medical Association, National Council of Jewish Women Arizona, and the Arizona National Organization of Women—are being represented by the Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Arizona.
Defendants in the lawsuit include the Arizona Attorney General, every Arizona County Attorney, the Arizona Medical Board and certain officials of the board, and the Arizona Department of Health Services and certain officials of the department, all of whom would have a role in the enforcement of the challenged provisions.
Arizona has several existing abortion restrictions that make it difficult for people to access abortion care, 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.
The law being challenged adds a fetal diagnosis reason ban to Arizona’s existing sex and race reason bans enacted in 2011, taking away patients’ constitutional right to choose a pre-viability abortion. The “personhood requirement” would anoint fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs with the same “rights and privileges” as “other persons” for purposes of all Arizona law. This sweeping measure threatens both health care providers and pregnant women with criminal liability for a wide range of actions that could impact a pregnancy.
Center Attorneys: Emily Nestler, Gail Deady, Jen Samantha D. Rasay, Center for Reproductive Rights
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Ruth E. Harlow, Rebecca Chan, American Civil Liberties Union; Victoria Lopez, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Arizona
Plaintiffs: Paul A. Isaacson, M.D., on behalf of himself and his patients; Eric M. Reuss, M.D., M.P.H,; on behalf of himself and his patients; National Council of Jewish Women (Arizona Section), Inc.; Arizona National Organization For Women; and Arizona Medical Association, on behalf of itself, its members and its members’ patients
We filed our complaint and request for a preliminary injunction (PI) in federal district court on August 17, 2021. A hearing on the request for a PI took place September 22. Awaiting a ruling.
- Complaint: Isaacson & Reuss, Arizona Medical Association, National Council of Jewish Women Arizona, and the Arizona National Organization of Women v. Mark Brnovich, Attorney General of Arizona et al., 8.17.2021