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US Arizona law criminalizing abortions sought for genetic abnormalities put on hold by judge

13:20  02 october  2021
13:20  02 october  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

Judge considers request to block Arizona abortion law

  Judge considers request to block Arizona abortion law PHOENIX (AP) — A lawyer for several Arizona abortion providers urged a federal judge Wednesday to block a new state law that would allow prosecutors to charge doctors who knowingly terminate a pregnancy solely because the fetus has a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome. The law, set to take effect on Wednesday, is so vague that it would dissuade doctors from performing an abortion anytime there's an indication that the fetus might have a genetic problem for fear of criminal prosecution, argued Emily Nestler, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights.“There are women in Arizona whose access to abortion will be eliminated altogether,” Nestler said.

PHOENIX – A federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of Arizona's law criminalizing abortions based on genetic conditions, an 11th-hour ruling that labels parts of the law as both "troubling" and as promoting "state-mandated misinformation."

The judge's order means people who become pregnant can continue to receive abortions because of diagnoses like Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis, and doctors can provide those services without fearing penalties including prison time. Other provisions of the law were allowed to take effect, however.

"Carrying any fetus with genetic abnormalities is a complex and very difficult decision for anyone to make," said Civia Tamarkin, president of the National Council of Jewish Women Arizona, one of several groups asking the judge to permanently overturn the law. "This immediately gives the opportunity to make one's own decision, and consider all the options."

EXPLAINER: Medication abortion becomes latest GOP target

  EXPLAINER: Medication abortion becomes latest GOP target Medication abortion accounts for about 40% of all abortions in the U.S. The increasingly common method relies on pills rather than surgery, opening the possibility for abortions to be done in a woman's home rather than a clinic. It's an option that has become important during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Republican states move to restrict access to abortion generally, many of them also are limiting access to medication-induced abortions. ProvidersAs Republican states move to restrict access to abortion generally, many of them also are limiting access to medication-induced abortions.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: (FILES) In this file photo taken on March 04, 2020 pro-choice activists supporting legal access to abortion protest during a demonstration outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, as the Court hears oral arguments regarding a Louisiana law about abortion access in the first major abortion case in years. - A US federal appeals court on March 31, 2020 ruled that Texas could temporarily suspend abortions as part of its response to the coronavirus crisis, overturning a ruling by a lower court the day before.The governor of the conservative-leaning Lone Star State, Greg Abbott, had decreed that elective procedures should be delayed to ensure readiness to treat virus patients -- and to conserve protective gear for frontline workers. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images) ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1QB28H © SAUL LOEB, AFP via Getty Images (FILES) In this file photo taken on March 04, 2020 pro-choice activists supporting legal access to abortion protest during a demonstration outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, as the Court hears oral arguments regarding a Louisiana law about abortion access in the first major abortion case in years. - A US federal appeals court on March 31, 2020 ruled that Texas could temporarily suspend abortions as part of its response to the coronavirus crisis, overturning a ruling by a lower court the day before.The governor of the conservative-leaning Lone Star State, Greg Abbott, had decreed that elective procedures should be delayed to ensure readiness to treat virus patients -- and to conserve protective gear for frontline workers. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images) ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1QB28H

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Supporters of the measure said the ruling removes anti-discrimination protections and noted it was just a first review by the courts.

"We remain confident the law will be upheld and ruled enforceable in its entirety. It’s a shame the abortion industry is standing in the way of protecting the most vulnerable from discrimination and life itself," said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, in a released statement.

State lawmakers sent Gov. Doug Ducey Senate Bill 1457 earlier this year, levying criminal penalties against doctors and others that financed abortions if people who become pregnant sought the procedure based solely on genetic abnormalities. Ducey signed it into law in April, and it was set to take effect Wednesday.

While U.S. District Court Judge Douglas L. Rayes granted abortion advocates' request to delay criminal enforcement while the legal challenge goes forward, he did not stop implementation of a provision giving fetuses and embryos civil rights as if they were any other person, among other provisions.

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Rayes' ruling says it was too early to rule on that issue before seeing how it will be enforced and interpreted by Arizona judges.

Several medical and pro-choice groups opposed the law and argued that two provisions should be delayed from taking effect.

The groups include the Arizona Medical Association, individual doctors Paul A. Isaacson of Phoenix and Eric M. Reuss of Scottsdale, and Arizona chapters of the National Organization for Women, American Civil Liberties Union and National Council of Jewish Women.

Their lawyers argued the law would create barriers to abortion that violate a person's constitutional rights and those established in two cases that set the framework for abortion access, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. They said the law was vague, unenforceable and amounted to an illegal ban on abortion.

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What the judge decided

Rayes did not agree the law was a ban but found it was vague and created obstacles to obtaining an abortion that likely violated the right of people who become pregnant to the procedure at certain times in a pregnancy. He said requiring doctors to notify patients about the law seemed intended to "make it less likely that a woman, though desiring to terminate her pregnancy because of a fetal genetic abnormality, will successfully exercise her right to do so."

Oklahoma Judge Blocks Law Banning Abortion at 6 Weeks, Upholds Restrictions on Pill Abortion

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That amounts to "state-mandated misinformation" that forces people who become pregnant to find other healthcare providers, Rayes wrote.

Lawyers for Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich defended the law in court, saying it was not a ban, but instead was an effort to prevent against illegal discrimination based on genetic abnormalities. People who become pregnant who sought abortions for genetic abnormalities among other reasons, or who did not want to disclose their reasons to their medical provider, could still access the procedure, the state argued.

A spokesperson for Brnovich's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the court's ruling.

Fewer than 1% of abortions obtained in Arizona each year are due to medical conditions such as cardiac or chromosome abnormalities, like those that cause Down syndrome, or exposure to toxic substances, according to the state's annual reporting. Approximately 110 abortions, of 13,097 in Arizona in 2019, were because of those medical conditions.

Anti-abortion efforts grow nationwide

Arizona's law was one of a dozen that lawmakers sought to pass earlier this year to restrict abortion. Republican-led states across the country have sought to limit access as the U.S. Supreme Court is taking up a case some predict could overturn Roe v. Wade.

Texas judge says abortions can resume, but future uncertain

  Texas judge says abortions can resume, but future uncertain WASHINGTON (AP) — Abortions in Texas can resume under a federal judge’s ruling late Wednesday, but for how long? A conservative federal appeals court, and ultimately the Supreme Court, might take a more skeptical look at the Biden administration’s lawsuit over Texas’ six-week abortion ban. The state law prohibiting abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks, had been in effect for more than a month. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman temporarily blocked it, in a 113-page ruling that found the law violates a woman's right to an abortion. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Oct.

At least 22 states legislatures this year sought to enact abortion bans based on genetic anomalies, but just two bills became law, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy group that promotes abortion access.

In addition to Arizona's law, South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed a bill into law prohibiting abortion because of confirmed or potential diagnosis of Down syndrome. Both Arizona and South Dakota's laws include exceptions allowing abortion when a person's life is threatened.

The judge's ruling does not prevent other aspects of Arizona's law from going into effect on Wednesday. These include requiring fetal tissue from an abortion to be buried or cremated and preventing doctors from sending abortion pills in the mail, among other provisions.

Follow reporter Stacey Barchenger on Twitter: @sbarchenger

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona law criminalizing abortions sought for genetic abnormalities put on hold by judge

Texas judge says abortions can resume, but future uncertain .
WASHINGTON (AP) — Abortions in Texas can resume under a federal judge’s ruling this week, but for how long? A conservative federal appeals court, and ultimately the Supreme Court, might take a more skeptical look at the Biden administration’s lawsuit over Texas’ six-week abortion ban. The state law prohibiting abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks, had been in effect for more than a month. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman temporarily blocked it late Wednesday in a 113-page ruling that found the law violates a woman's right to an abortion. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Oct.

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