On Tuesday, the Arizona law banning abortion after 20 weeks in a pregnancy was ruled unconstitutional and permanently struck down.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 20 week ban in Arizona violated a woman's constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability (around 24 weeks) as determined by Roe v. Wade. In the unanimous decision, Judge Marsha Berzon wrote "A woman has a constitutional right to choose to terminate her pregnancy before the fetus is viable without undue interference by the state." She continued, "While the state may regulate the model and manner of abortion prior to fetal viability, it may not proscribe a woman from electing abortion, nor may it impose an undue burden on her choice through regulation." Even the staunch anti-abortion Judge Andrew Kleinfeld agreed that while he may disagree with the practice of abortion, he was bound to uphold the Supreme Court's authority.
The judges rejected the claim that the law was not a ban on abortion, merely a regulation since doctors were allowed to perform abortions after 20 weeks for medical emergencies. In the opinion, Berzon wrote, "Allowing a physician to decide if abortion is medically necessary is not the same as allowing a woman to decide whether to carry her own pregnancy to term."
Nancy Northrup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that the ruling "should send a clear message to anti-choice politicians that their attempts to deprive pregnant women of critical health care are clearly unconstitutional."
Media Resources: Associated Press 5/21/2013; New York Times 5/21/2013; San Francisco Chronicle 5/21/2013