Arizona Law Cutting Abortions 30% Survives Legal Attack

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 15, 2011   |   8:06PM   |   Washington, DC

An Arizona law that has already cut abortions 30 percent and led to the shut down of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics in the state has survived a legal challenge from the abortion business and a lawsuit it filed.

Planned Parenthood has decided to end its legal attack on Arizona’s Abortion Consent Act, according to a court order issued Monday. Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund together with the Center for Arizona Policy, the Bioethics Defense Fund, and the Life Legal Defense Foundation defended the law. In August, the Arizona Court of Appeals lifted an injunction against the law and determined that it was constitutional.

“A woman’s right to make a fully informed choice is more important than Planned Parenthood’s desire to profit from abortions,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden, who argued before the Court of Appeals on June 14. “Without this legal roadblock, women will now be better protected–and so will pro-life medical professionals whom the law protects from being coerced into participating in abortions.”

“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 nearly 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance. “These types of protections have been repeatedly upheld and are overwhelmingly supported by the public.”

In October, Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy indicated the state released new abortion figures comparing the number of abortions in September 2011 with those done in September 2010. “In September of 2010, 1,053 abortions were performed in Arizona. This September, 729 abortions – that’s 324 fewer abortions – a 30% decrease,” Herrod explained. “That number is also down from 1,069 abortions in August of this year. Simply incredible.”

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.

“We hold that the statutes at issue would withstand federal constitutional scrutiny,” the Court of Appeals wrote in its 3-0 March 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.”

The law 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.

Responding to the decision, Planned Parenthood announced it will no longer do abortions at seven locations — including communities outside of Phoenix and Tucson rather than comply with the law.

Herrod says the new law and its effects are responsible for the abortion decline.

“Following the August court ruling upholding the 2009 Abortion Consent Act, Planned Parenthood announced they would stop providing abortions at 7 of their 10 clinics,” she explained. “Arizona’s new laws now ensure that all women considering an abortion are given an ultrasound exam and are provided the opportunity to see those results and to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Now, non-doctors are not allowed to perform surgical abortions, and doctors must be involved in the care of all women seeking abortion.”

“These initial numbers are the fruits of your partnership with Gov. Brewer, state legislators, and CAP to make a difference to empower women and give them the opportunity to make an informed choice,” Herrod continued. “The work is far from over – I anticipate further lawsuits from the abortion industry. For now, our CAP Policy Team is assessing what else can be done to protect women and preborn children. And, I hope you rejoice with us that lives are being saved.”

Herrod also thanked the work of pregnancy centers in the state — providing women with abortion alternatives — as part of the reason for the drop.

“The work of the almost 50 pregnancy resource centers in Arizona means more now than ever. As the new pro-life laws take effect, women facing crisis pregnancies will turn to your local pregnancy center rather than an abortion provider. Please do what you can to help those centers thrive and meet the overwhelming needs,” she said.

Naturally, Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, disputed the reasons for the decline, but admitted part of it has to do with the fact that non-doctors it formerly used to do abortions are no longer allowed to do them.

“It’s 100 percent due to the shortage of providers,” Howard said, according to the Yuma Sun.

Still, Planned Parenthood is the biggest abortion business in the state, doing 653 of the 729 abortions in September.