By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media services
PHOENIX – Proponents of abortion law go to court to overturn a new law that makes aborting a fetus due to a genetic defect a crime.
The lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday said it was illegal to restrict a woman’s right to have an abortion in any way. Attorney Emily Nester of the Center for Reproductive Rights said there has been a long line of cases that say the government has no role in decisions made before a fetus is viable, that is, can live outside the uterus.
“This ban is aimed at pregnant women who, as a result of fetal genetic screening or diagnostic tests during routine prenatal care, face complex and personal considerations, including making decisions about what is best for them and their families, and then into that private decision-making invades their right to opt for an abortion, ”wrote Nester.
But she also said it was worse.
Nester said the ban on abortion for this reason was “unconstitutionally vague”. This is because the law – and its penalties – apply if a health care provider is supposed to “know” that the patient wants to end the abortion “solely” because of a genetic defect.
“Since the ban leaves providers the ability to guess which acts are prohibited, they will have no choice but to largely deny constitutional care to patients with evidence of a possible fetal abnormality, or to risk the severity of the ban in large part To get into conflict. ” Penalties and license fines, ”she wrote.
Nester also finds something else problematic.
Legislation declares that a fetus has the same rights as “other persons, citizens and residents of this state”.
Nester calls on a federal judge to prevent state officials from enforcing the law if it is due to go into effect on Sept. 29.
“Politicians should not be able to decide what is an acceptable reason for an abortion,” said Nester in a separate prepared statement. “This law is an affront to our constitutional rights and our ability to make private decisions without government intervention.” ‘
But Cathi Herrod, president of the Anti-Abortion Center for Arizona Policy, called the litigation Tuesday “a desperate attempt to stand in the way of Arizona law to protect premature babies from discrimination”.
“We do not discriminate against people with disabilities, nor should we discriminate against them in the womb,” said Herrod.
The law, signed by Governor Doug Ducey, states that any medical professional who performs or assists an abortion that is sought because of a fetal abnormality can be sentenced to up to one year in state prison.
During the debate, Senator Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, the sponsor of the measure, said the legislation was warranted.
“We have to stand up for those at risk, the children with Down syndrome and other genetic abnormalities that are being wiped out in Arizona and across the country and standing up for their lives,” she said.
But D-Green Valley MP Rosanna Gabaldon called it “an attempt by anti-abortion groups to adopt the disability rights cloak”.
The litigation even comes as some states, with the assistance of Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich, attempt to get the US Supreme Court to overthrow the historic 1973 US states
Supreme Court decision stating that women have the right to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is viable. That ruling and subsequent cases have affirmed that states have limited ability to intervene in the process, usually with maternal health laws.
But Senator Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, pointed out that five other states have similar laws. This includes Ohio, where law says a doctor can be punished for an abortion after a patient says a fetus with Down syndrome is part of their decision.
Earlier this year, a divided federal appeals court approved the entry into force of this law, with the majority concluding that it promotes the state’s interest in affirming that people with the genetic disorder are “equal in dignity and worth” to others. And the judges said that there was no absolute ban on abortion.
However, none of these laws have yet to reach the Supreme Court.
And Herrod pointed out that this law was modeled on the 2011 legislation that made it illegal to abort a fetus based on its sex or race. Appeals against this law were unsuccessful – but only after a federal judge said there was no evidence that a woman was actually denied an abortion under the law.
The measure also:
– Allows the husband of a woman seeking such an abortion, or the woman’s parents, if she is under the age of 18, to sue on behalf of the unborn child;
– Prohibits women from obtaining otherwise legal drugs for an abortion by mail or other delivery service;
– Explains that the laws of Arizona must be interpreted in such a way that an unborn child has the same rights, privileges, and immunities as anyone else.