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The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and the Center for Reproductive Rights on Saturday filed an emergency petition seeking to block the state’s 2021 “personhood” law which they say could be used to prohibit all abortions in Arizona.
The United States Supreme Court on Friday issued a decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which means states can now enforce their own abortion rights laws.
Arizona has two abortion laws, one from over 100 years ago that bans all abortions and one signed earlier this year that bans the procedure after 15 weeks with exceptions for cases seeking to save mother’s life.
Saturday’s motion challenges a 2021 law banning abortions sought because an unborn child has a survivable genetic defect. This law makes it a crime for a doctor to terminate a pregnancy because of a genetic abnormality. The legislation also includes a provision on “personality”.
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A U.S. district judge blocked part of the genetic abnormalities law last year, but chose not to suspend the “personality” provision. The provision notes that the state will interpret all laws to grant civil rights to unborn children.
The ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights say the “personality” provision exposes medical providers and pregnant women to potential lawsuits, saying providers could be charged under multiple laws, including the setting in danger or child molestation.
The Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative nonprofit advocacy group, said Saturday that the state legislature approved the law to affirm that unborn children have every right if Roe v. Wade was canceled.
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“Roe’s reversal allows states to establish abortion laws,” said group president Cathi Herrod. “Arizona made this law to say that unborn children are protected by law.”
Herrod said she expects further challenges to Arizona’s abortion laws.
The case, which was filed on behalf of two abortion providers, argues that the “personality” law is too vague.
The law states that civil and criminal laws must guarantee the rights of fetuses, embryos and fertilized human eggs at any stage of development. According to the motion, the law gives no indication of its application to abortion care.
Abortion providers across the state were forced to cease proceedings following Friday’s 5-4 Supreme Court ruling.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.