The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the Ninth Circuit's decision that declared Arizona's abortion ban unconstitutional. This means that Arizona's law banning abortions starting at 20 weeks of gestation remains invalidated, according to Reuters.
Prior to appealing to the Supreme Court, the constitutionality of the ban was heard in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the Ninth Circuit's ruling gives a huge win for reproductive justice advocates in Arizona.
Ninth Circuit Ruling
The Arizona abortion law prohibited abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless there was a medical emergency. It also required all women to undergo a pre-abortion ultrasound. The case against this law was heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals before the Supreme Court declined to hear it.
According to the Associated Press, viability of the fetus begins at 24 weeks. This means that at 24 weeks the fetus may have the ability to survive outside of the womb. Past U.S. Supreme Court decisions have agreed that abortion should be legal until viability. Under this reasoning, the Arizona abortion law that prohibited abortions past week 20 was struck down by the Ninth Circuit. The federal appellate court reasoned that it was a woman's constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy before the fetus is viable -- not the state's decision.
Since the Supreme Court refused to consider the Ninth Circuit's ruling, the Arizona abortion ban remains struck. It's important to note that just because the Supreme Court declined to reconsider the Ninth Circuit's ruling doesn't necessarily mean that it will decline any future "20 weeks" abortion law cases.
How Does the Supreme Court's Refusal Affect Arizona law?
Since the Arizona law is unconstitutional and unenforceable, women in Arizona have the right to terminate their pregnancies up until the fetus becomes viable. Doctors who perform abortions may continue to do so until the fetus is declared legally viable. As such, the "20 week" restriction is no longer the law.
With Arizona's abortion ban off the books, 11 other states continue to set their limits at 20 weeks. Out of those states, two (Georgia and Idaho) have had their unconstitutional laws struck down. As for the remaining nine states, the laws have yet to be challenged, The New York Times.
The Supreme Court's refusal to consider this Ninth Circuit case reminds us that the decision in Roe v. Wade is still alive and well. Although healthcare providers in Phoenix should be aware that the Arizona abortion ban is no longer in effect, women should consult a health care attorney if they're having trouble accessing a medical professional.
- Supreme Court blocks Arizona's 20-week abortion ban (Fox News)
- First 20-Week Abortion Case Punted; Recess Appointments Doomed? (FindLaw's Supreme Court of the United States Blog)
- Planned Parenthood Sues Texas Over Abortion Law (FindLaw's U.S. Fifth Circuit Blog)
- Abortion (FindLaw)