9th Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down Arizona’s 20-week abortion ban


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

It looks like the "Mayor" of Washington, D.C., Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), has a bit of a problem with his plan to take his anti-abortion crusade nationwide. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Arizona's 20-week abortion ban law today. Doh! Court Strikes Down Arizona 20-Week Abortion Ban:

TalibanThe 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the law violated a woman's
constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus
is able to survive outside the womb. "Viability" of a fetus is
generally considered to start at 24 weeks. Normal pregnancies run about
40 weeks.

Nine other states have enacted similar bans starting at 20 weeks or even
earlier. Several of those bans had previously been placed on hold or
struck down by other courts.

Judge Marsha Berzon, writing for the unanimous three-judge panel on the
San Francisco-based court, said such bans before viability violate a
long string of U.S. Supreme Court rulings starting with the seminal Roe
v. Wade
decision in 1973.

The judge wrote that "a woman has a constitutional right to choose to terminate her pregnancy before the fetus is viable."

Gov. Jan Brewer signed the ban into law in April 2012 after it was
approved by the Republican-led Legislature. Supporters said the law was
meant to protect the mother's health and prevent fetuses from feeling
pain. U.S. District Judge James Teilborg ruled it was constitutional,
partly because of those concerns, but the 9th Circuit blocked the ban
from going into effect until it ruled

Lawyers representing Arizona argued that the ban wasn't technically a
law but rather a medical regulation because it allowed for doctors to
perform abortions in medical emergencies. Berzon rejected that reasoning
and deemed the legislation a law banning abortions before a fetus is

"The challenged Arizona statute's medical emergency exception does not
transform the law from a prohibition on abortion into a regulation of
abortion procedure," Berzon wrote. "Allowing a physician to decide if
abortion is medically necessary is not the same as allowing a woman to
decide whether to carry her own pregnancy to term."

Berzon was joined by judges Mary Schroeder and Andrew Kleinfeld.

Cathi Herrod, the head of a Christian social conservative group that
championed the 2012 legislation, said the ruling overlooks the state's
interest in protecting maternal health," but that the outcome wasn't
surprising because of the court's reputation as siding with politically
liberal causes.

"We look forward to an appeal to the United States Supreme Court," said
Herrod, president of the Phoenix-based Center for Arizona Policy
. The
group filed a legal brief in support of the Arizona law.

The 9th Circuit's ruling is binding only in the nine Western states
under the court's jurisdiction, and Idaho is the only other state in the
region with a similar ban. A federal judge earlier declared Idaho's ban

Janet Creppe, a lawyer who argued against the ban in court for the
Center for Reproductive Rights, said the ruling Tuesday affirmed a
woman's right to an abortion before viability.

"These laws are all unconstitutional," she said. "This is not a close legal question at all. These laws are unconstitutional."

Yes, they are, and that's really the whole point. These anti-abortion crusaders are trying to get a case in front of the conservative activist Roberts' Supreme Court in the hope that the conservative activists of the Court will overturn 40 years of judicial precedents after Roe v. Wade.

UPDATE: The ruling is online here (pdf).


  1. I would like my maternal health and that of my daughters protected from fundamental, religious busybodies and forced birthers like Cathy Herrod. Mind your own business and stay out of other people’s reproductive decisions.