Arizona's 20-Week Abortion Ban Is Unconstitutional, Says Federal Appeals Court

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says Arizona's law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy is unconstitutional, citing just about every Supreme Court case on the subject since Roe v. Wade.

"The 20-week law is [an] unconstitutional under an unbroken stream of Supreme Court authority, beginning with Roe and ending with Gonzales [v. Carhart]," the court says. "Arizona simply cannot proscribe a woman from choosing to obtain an abortion before the fetus is viable."

See also:
-Federal Judge Upholds 20-Week Abortion Ban; Cites Suspect Fetal-Pain Evidence
-Bill Montgomery Wants Lawyer for Unborn in Challenging 20-Week Abortion Ban

A federal judge had given the green light on the ban, as U.S. District Judge James Teilborg claimed that the state Legislature cited "substantial and well-documented evidence that an unborn child has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion by at least 20 weeks gestational age."

According to the appellate court ruling, everyone was in agreement that fetuses aren't viable at 20 weeks gestational age.

"The district court so recognized, declaring it undisputed that viability usually occurs between 23 and 24 weeks gestation," the court says. "Accordingly, Arizona's ban on abortion from 20 weeks necessarily prohibits pre-viability abortions."

The panel maintained that the Constitution doesn't allow states to ban abortion before the fetus is viable.

Although Governor Brewer signed the bill into law in April 2012, an emergency injunction had been preventing the law from going into effect.

"Lawmakers cannot impose their personal ideologies on the women of Arizona," said ACLU of Arizona legal director Dan Pochoda says in a statement. "This law endangered women's health and was knowingly passed by the Arizona Legislature despite clearly violating established constitutional requirements."

Not only is this decision a loss for Attorney General Tom Horne and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who were arguing in favor of the ban, but it might also put a damper on the day of anti-abortion fanatic Congressman Trent Franks, who's trying to pass a nationwide ban on abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy.

See the court's ruling below:

Isaacson v Horne by mhendleyNT

Send feedback and tips to the author.
Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley