Appeals Court rejects challenge to Arizona law barring abortions based on child’s race or sex

By Dave Andrusko

Arizona State Rep. Steve Montenegro crafted the bill

Arizona State Rep. Steve Montenegro crafted the bill

Of all the circuit courts of appeals, probably none would be less likely to uphold a pro-life law than the abortion-happy 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

But that’s what a unanimous three-judge panel did Tuesday. In a brief, unsigned opinion, the panel upheld a lower court judge who’d dismissed a lawsuit brought by the NAACP’s Maricopa County Branch and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum because they had not shown they had been harmed by an Arizona law that outlawed abortions based on the child’s race or sex.

Capitol Media Service reporter Howard Fischer wrote

the judges said challengers to the 2011 law presented no such evidence [that they had been personally denied equal treatment] when they made their case earlier this month. In fact, the attorney for the NAACP and the National Asian-Pacific American Women’s Forum admitted no woman had been denied an abortion because of the statute.

What that left, the appellate judges said, was simply the claim that black and Asian women had been the “targets of discriminatory intent.” And that, they said, is insufficient to provide them a right to sue.

More specifically, the appellate judges “said there was no evidence that the law was crafted in a way that targets only certain groups,” Fischer wrote. “Instead, they noted, it applies to any woman who wants to have an abortion” on the basis of the child’s sex or race.

The groups’ attorney, Dan Pochoda of the ACLU, told Fischer no decision had yet been made whether to appeal to the Supreme Court. “But he indicated that the unanimous decision by the appellate panel made prospects for overturning the ruling dim.”

But, of course, that doesn’t meant they are giving up. Indeed, according to Fischer, one appellate judge hinted what might be stronger grounds for a challenge. That is, if an abortionist is “forced” to ask why a woman wants an abortion, then they “might be able to claim that the law interferes with the physician-patient relationship.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom was part of the coalition that helped defend the Arizona law. “Preserving the life of all babies, regardless of their sex or race, should be everyone’s priority,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden . “Sadly, it wasn’t for the ACLU and the NAACP, but the 9th Circuit has rightly upheld the district court’s decision to dismiss their lawsuit. Nothing about an abortion committed on the basis of sex or race is medically necessary or constitutionally protected.”

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