Arizona Law Regulating Abortion Businesses Unconstitutional Court Says
by Steven Ertelt
June 21, 2004
Phoenix, AZ (LifeNews.com) — A federal appeals court has ruled unconstitutional a law that regulates abortion facilities in Arizona. "Lou Anne’s Law," named in memory of a mother who died from complications of a late-term abortion, would have protected women’s health and ensured that abortion businesses followed the same rules and regulations that apply to legitimate medical facilities.
However, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously decided that some provisions of the law were unconstitutional.
The appeals court said the law would allow inspections of abortion business offices that were too broad and not legal without a warrant and would allow state officials to have unauthorized access to patient files.
The court also voided a section of the legislation requiring abortion practitioners to treat women "with consideration, respect and full recognition of the patient’s dignity and individuality."
The wording, which came as a result of actions by one abortion practitioner who was eventually found guilty of sexually harassing dozens of patients, was too vague, according to the court.
John Jakubczyk, an attorney and the president of Arizona Right to Life, said the court should have followed the decisions of others which have upheld the constitutionality of similar laws.
"This is an incredibly poor decision made by those who have a bias against protecting women when it comes to the subject of abortion," Jakubczyk told LifeNews.com.
The appeals court did not address the licensing of abortion businesses and standards they must maintain — ranging from cleanliness to emergency supplies.
The court sent that part of the law back to U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins to allow abortion businesses to prove the requirements are burdensome. Previously, Judge Collins ruled they were not.
Jakubczyk added that women are the ones who lose as a result of the decision.
"In this case, the exploitation and victimization of women will continue while the lower court litigates issues which support the law. It is simply a stalling technique to keep the law enjoined while the women continue to lose," Jakubczyk said.
The appeals court also said a requirement that abortion businesses furnish information about women who die or are injured as a result of a botched abortion is allowable.
Denise Burke, staff counsel with Americans United for Life (AUL), argued in favor of the law during oral arguments last December.
"Lou Anne’s Law provides common-sense regulations that are standard procedures for other health care facilities. They ensure basic protections such as emergency care procedures, sanitation, proper maintenance of patient records, and staff-training standards that any outpatient clinic should have," said Burke.
"Right now, a dog has more protection in a veterinary clinic than a woman in an abortion clinic," Burke said.
"Lou Anne’s Law" was named after Lou Anne Herron, a 32-year-old mother of two, who bled to death after her uterus was punctured in a Phoenix abortion facility in 1998. John Biskind, who performed the late-term abortion, was later convicted of manslaughter.
Similar laws in other states such as South Carolina and Louisiana have already been responsible for shutting down abortion facilities.