Federal Judge Upholds The Nation’s Most Restrictive Abortion Ban

Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union — joined by a local ACLU chapter and the Center for Reproductive Rights — sued Arizona over the state’s abortion ban, calling it the nation’s most extreme because it criminalizes almost all abortions after 20 weeks. Today, a federal judge upheld HB 2036, dismissing the ACLU’s request to block the law from going into effect on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg ruled that HB 2036, which Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) signed into law in April, will be allowed to take effect this week. The law criminalizes almost all abortions after just 20 weeks, even though a fetus generally isn’t considered to reach viability until week 23 or 24. There are no exceptions for pregnant women’s health except for immediate medical emergencies.

Nancy Northup, the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, pointed out in a press release that Teilborg’s ruling contradicts the legal precedent for women’s right to privacy before their fetus reaches viability:

Today’s decision casts aside decades of legal precedent, ignoring constitutional protections for reproductive rights that have been upheld by the United States Supreme Court for nearly 40 years and threatening women’s health and lives. […] Anyone concerned with the erosion of constitutional rights in the U.S. and the intrusion of government into the lives and private decisions of individual citizens should be profoundly disturbed by today’s decision.

The Guttmacher Institute has designated Arizona as one of the 26 states that are “hostile” to women’s reproductive freedom. Women’s health advocates are currently embroiled in a second lawsuit in Arizona to combat another anti-choice law, HB 2800, that seeks to defund the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics.


Despite the fact that HB 2036 has been upheld, Planned Parenthood Arizona confirms some good news for women in the state: the HB 2800 legislation that would have defunded Planned Parenthood’s health clinics is stalling. Just like Arizona’s abortion ban, HB 2800 would have also gone into effect this Thursday. However, a United States District Court has determined that Arizona needs to hold off on implementing the law at least until after a further ruling that will follow a court hearing scheduled for October.

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