Pro-Choice Groups Challenge Arizona Abortion Restrictions

The Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Thursday in an attempt to block an anti-choice law in Arizona. The law was signed into effect by Governor Jan Brewer this April, and is scheduled to go into effect August 2nd. The law prohibits women from getting an abortion 20 weeks after a woman’s last period, which is approximately 18 weeks after fertilization. The definition of medical exception is also narrowed through the law. The law is the most restrictive in the nation.

The law cites highly challenged scientific claims of fetal pain. As reported in the New York Times, this lawsuit is of significance because it “might bring the first major courtroom test of pre-viability time limits” as well as question fetal pain allegations. Center for Reproductive Rights Chief Executive Nancy Northup said, “This is the most extreme example yet of these early-limit laws. This law also has a radically limited health exception that is completely unacceptable under the constitutional standard.” Northup also said to Reuters that the law “displays a callous disregard for the complicated and very difficult circumstances many pregnant women face.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, seven other states – Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska and North Carolina – ban abortion after 20 weeks, with exceptions for a woman’s physical health. Similar legislation in Georgia, Louisiana, and New Hampshire is scheduled to go into effect later this year and early 2013. Thirty-one other states ban abortion after viability.

Media Resources: New York Times 7/12/2012; Reuters 7/12/2012; Arizona Republic 7/12/2012; Associated Press 7/12/2012; Guttmacher Institute 7/1/2012

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