May 21, 2013; Seattle Post-Intelligencer

NPQ always wishes to point out at moments like this the vital importance of having robust legal capacity when pursuing or maintaining social change. 

Yesterday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Arizona’s controversial ban on abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Janet Creppe argued the case for the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union. The ruling is here.

In summary, the court said the law violated a woman’s constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is viable.

From the ruling:

“The panel held that under controlling Supreme Court precedent, Arizona may not deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at any point prior to viability. The panel held that Arizona House Bill 2036, enacted in April 2012, effects such a deprivation by prohibiting abortion from twenty weeks gestational age through fetal viability. The panel held that the twenty-week law is therefore unconstitutional under an unbroken stream of Supreme Court authority, beginning with Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), and ending with Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007).”

Nine other states have passed similar bans, but some of these have been struck down already.

The Center for Reproductive Rights said in its statement lauding the ruling that, “it should send a clear message to anti-choice politicians that their attempts to deprive pregnant women of critical health care are clearly unconstitutional and will not hold up in court.”

The 9th Circuit’s ruling is binding only in the nine Western states under the court’s jurisdiction. Idaho, the only other state in that grouping that has a similar law, has already had its law struck down.—Ruth McCambridge