The Supreme Court decided today to reject a case that would have been a direct assault on Roe v. Wade. 

Horne v. Isaacson is a legal challenge to an Arizona law that bans abortions 20 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in May that the law was unconstitutional and permanently blocked its enforcement.  The law would have interfered with a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy before viability, in direct conflict with Roe v. Wade. The law also included only very narrow exceptions, permitting an abortion only if the woman faced a life-threatening medical emergency or serious physical impairment.

The State of Arizona had appealed the Ninth Circuit’s decision to the Supreme Court.  The Court’s denial to take up the appeal means the restrictive law will remain permanently blocked.

“The Supreme Court soundly declined to review the Ninth Circuit’s sound decision that Arizona’s abortion ban is clearly unconstitutional,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which originally filed the challenge to the law along with the American Civil Liberties Union in 2012. “This ensures that no Arizona women’s lives or health are harmed by this callus and unconstitutional law.”

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday in another case concerning safe access to abortion, McCullen v. Coakley.  In that case, the Court will consider whether a Massachusetts clinic safety buffer zone law is constitutional.

Media Resources: Center for Reproductive Rights 1/13/14SCOTUSBlog 1/13/14; RH Reality Check 1/10/14; Feminist Newswire 6/25/13, 5/23/13