NEWSFLASH: Court Strikes Down Arizona Abortion Ban

On Tuesday, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Arizona’s ban on abortion at 20 weeks, calling it unconstitutional because a woman has a legal right to terminate a pregnancy before fetal viability.

The law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in April 2012, caused Arizona to be one of the most restrictive states in the country on reproductive rights during the time that the ban was in effect. Said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, one of the organizations that challenged the ban in court last year,

The ban would have forced a physician caring for a woman with a high-risk pregnancy to wait until her condition poses an immediate threat of death or major medical damage before offering her the care she needs.

Defenders of the ban stated that it constituted a medical regulation rather than a law, thereby still allowing doctors to carry out abortions in medical emergencies. However, Judge Marsha Berzon, one of the three-judge panel for the court, rejected this defense, considering the ban to be a law prohibiting abortion before viability.

All pre-viability abortion bans would seem to violate U.S. Supreme Court rulings, particularly Roe v. Wade, which sets viability at 24 weeks.

Image of U.S. Supreme Court Ninth Circuit by Wikimedia Commons under license from Creative Commons 3.0


Natasha Turner is a freelance journalist and editor based in London and a former Ms. editorial intern.