A federal judge has ruled that Arizona’s partial-birth abortion ban is constitutional, a decision that could allow for more restrictive laws based on the prevention of fetal pain and on late-term abortion risks to women’s health.
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of Americans United for Life, praised the ruling.
She said the law “shows real concern for women and their unborn children.”
U.S. District Judge James Teilborg on July 30 said that Arizona provided “substantial and well-documented” evidence that an unborn child can feel pain during an abortion at least 20 weeks into pregnancy. The law’s defenders showed the state’s “legitimate interest” in limiting abortions past 20 weeks, he added.
The law will take effect Aug. 2.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the ban into law in April 2012. It bars abortion 20 weeks into pregnancy or later, except in medical emergencies.
Previously, Arizona law barred abortion at the age of viability, when an unborn child could live outside of the womb, which is currently at about 24 weeks.
Gov. Brewer expressed gratitude for Judge Teilborg’s ruling, saying the law will help protect women and children.
“My pro-life record is lengthy and consistent, but my heart goes out to any woman who finds herself in circumstances so dark that she considers an abortion,” she said July 30.
The Arizona law was based upon Americans United for Life model legislation.
Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel with Americans United for Life, testified in favor of the bill in the Arizona legislature.
He said Aug. 1 that Judge Teilborg quoted the legislature’s findings on late-term abortion’s health risks to women, findings which were based on the pro-life group’s testimony and evidence.
The law’s opponents, including the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, said they would appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Nancy Northup, the center's president and CEO, said that the decision “casts aside decades of legal precedent” and ignores “constitutional protections for reproductive rights that have been upheld by the United States Supreme Court for nearly 40 years,” according to the Associated Press.
She said that the law threatens “women’s health and lives.”
Yoest said that the appeal could become “an important test case” based on the precedent of the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision Gonzales v. Carhart, which affirmed the constitutionality of some restrictions on late-term abortion.
Ten states have some form of a ban on abortion at 20 weeks or more into a pregnancy, she said.