Skeptical judge places Arizona pro-life law under scrutiny

By Dave Andrusko

U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes, appointed to the bench by former President Barack Obama, grilled the state of Arizona in a challenge brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

At issue was SB 1457 which has multiple pro-life provisions. The one that has received the most attention makes it a felony for abortionists to knowingly perform an abortion because the child has been prenatally diagnosed with a genetic anomaly, most often Down syndrome. Arizona already prohibits abortions because of an unborn baby’s race or sex.

“There’s immeasurable value in every single life — regardless of genetic makeup,” Gov. Ducey said at the time. “We will continue to prioritize protecting life in our preborn children, and this legislation goes a long way in protecting real human lives. My sincere thanks to Senator Nancy Barto for her leadership and work on this life-saving issue.”

Bills banning abortion because of genetic anomaly, race, and/or gender have passed in seventeen states.

In addition, to name just four other provisions, the law prohibits abortion drugs from being sent through the mail (making dangerous “Do-It-Yourself” abortions possible), bans the spending of any state money toward organizations that provide abortion, requires a burial or cremation of the remains of an aborted baby, and a legislative declaration that Arizona laws recognize that an unborn child has “all rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of this state.”

The lawsuit challenges two of these provisions.

First, what the CRR calls the “reason ban” —“whenever the providing physician knows that the abortion is due to ‘a genetic abnormality.’”

Second, the recognition in Arizona law that an unborn child has “all rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of this state” which the CRR charges is a “Personhood Provision.”

“Politicians should not get to decide what is an acceptable reason for seeking an abortion,” said Emily Nestler, senior counsel at CRR, in a released statement. “Patients are the ones best suited to decide what is best for themselves and their families, in consultation with their health care providers.”

Nestler “said it’s entirely unclear what that means and how it would be applied across the state’s entire legal apparatus,” according to the Associated Press.

The full panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeal’s recently took up a decision by a three-judge panel placing the “Missouri Stands for Life” Act on hold. That law has some of the same provisions.