Arizona Court Upholds Pro-Life Law With Abortion Limits

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 11, 2011   |   5:03PM   |   Phoenix, AZ

The Arizona Court of Appeals issued a decision that pleases pro-life groups by upholding a pro-life law that protects the health and safety of women and their unborn children by giving them information they don’t normally receive.

The Arizona Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in June in Planned Parenthood Arizona v. Horne, a case the abortion business filed which challenges key aspects of the 2009 Abortion Consent Act. The law is a pro-life measure Governor Jan Brewer signed which tells women of the risks associated with and alternatives to abortion. Planned Parenthood sued the state soon after its signing and a Superior Court judge blocked the law from taking effect while the case moves forward.

The Center for Arizona Policy, a statewide pro-life group, drafted the Abortion Consent Act and is a part of the legal team – which includes Alliance Defense Fund, Bioethics Defense Fund, the Bioethics Defense Fund, and Life Legal Defense Fund – defending the constitutionality of the law. The law has several other pro-life provisions the pro-life organizations support.

The Arizona Court of Appeals today upheld the Abortion Consent Act on appeal after it was enjoined by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daughton following a Planned Parenthood lawsuit. Today’s 3-0 opinion vacates the injunction in its entirety.

The law will now go into effect and it makes it so Arizona will require a notarized parental signature before an abortion can be performed on a minor child, women will be provided with full and accurate information by a doctor in person at least 24 hours before an abortion, medical professionals cannot be forced to perform abortions if it contradicts their sincerely held religious or moral beliefs and non-doctors will not be permitted by law to perform surgical abortions.

“The Court acknowledged the Legislature’s right to pass legislation to protect the health and safety of women considering abortion,” said Deborah Sheasby, Center for Arizona Policy’s Legal Counsel. “This is a major victory for Arizona women.”

“If Planned Parenthood truly cared about what’s best for women, they wouldn’t be repeatedly going to court around the nation to stop laws that allow women to make fully informed choices,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden, who argued before the Court of Appeals on June 14. “The court ruled rightly in this case in rejecting the arguments of the nation’s largest purveyor of abortion.  The protection of women is not unconstitutional.”

“We hold that the statutes at issue would withstand federal constitutional scrutiny,” the Court of Appeals wrote in its 3-0 opinion, “and that the Arizona Constitution–to the extent it protects abortion rights at all–offers no greater protection than the federal constitution with respect to the regulations at issue in this case…. We hold that the statutes affected by the preliminary injunction are constitutional, and we therefore vacate the injunction in its entirety.”

“Everyone deserves full and accurate information before undergoing any medical procedure,” said Center for Arizona Policy Legal Counsel Deborah Sheasby, co-counsel and one of more than 2,000 attorneys in the ADF alliance. “These types of protections have been repeatedly upheld and are overwhelmingly supported by the public.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld 24-hour waiting periods, and multiple polls have found overwhelming public support for protections like those included in Arizona’s act.

Ron Johnson of the Arizona Catholic Conference also commented on the decision, in an email to LifeNews.

“We are very grateful that the Court of Appeals has reversed the trial court ruling and upheld provisions drafted by the Arizona Catholic Conference with respect to rights of conscience for all healthcare providers, including pharmacists,” he said. “This litigation is not over and there remains a possibility that the case could be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court. Nonetheless, the ACC is most grateful to the legislative sponsors of this legislation (Linda Gray and Nancy Barto) as well as to former Speaker Kirk Adams and current Speaker Andy Tobin for intervening in this case and Governor Brewer for signing this bill.”

A Tucson abortion facility represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York-based pro-abortion law firm, dropped a federal lawsuit against the law. The federal case, Tucson Women’s Center v. Arizona Medical Board, was voluntarily dismissed from the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona Friday and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.