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Federal appeals court enjoins Arizona abortion law

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Wednesday issued an emergency injunction [order, PDF] to block enforcement of a new Arizona abortion regulation [HB 2036 materials; JURIST report] that will ban abortions after 20 weeks unless there is a medical emergency. Physicians violating the ban would face a misdemeanor criminal charge [Reuters report] and risk revocation of their licenses. The three-judge panel issued the injunction in response to an emergency motion by plaintiffs following a ruling by the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] declining to enjoin the law [JURIST report]. The appellate court granted the injunction pending the outcome of the appeal:

Plaintiffs in this case are board-certified obstetrician-gynecologists. Enforcement of the ban will bar them from providing pre-viability pregnancy terminations for their patients at or after 20 weeks, in contravention of their patients' rights and in some cases at the expense of their patients' health. They therefore challenged the ban as applied to abortions performed prior to viability on the grounds that it violates their patients' right under the Fourteenth Amendment, and sought preliminary and permanent injunctive and declaratory relief [in the district court].
The lawsuit was originally filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona [advocacy websites]. In addition to issuing the injunction the court also sua sponte expedited the briefing and hearing of the appeal.

This is the latest development in the ongoing reproductive rights controversy [JURIST backgrounder]. In July a federal judge blocked a Mississippi law [JURIST report] that would have effectively shut down the state's only abortion clinic. Two weeks ago, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt appealed a ruling [JURIST report] by a district court judge that held that an abortion ultrasound bill is unconstitutional. Earlier last month, Louisiana Governor Bob Jindal signed a bill increasing abortion restrictions in the state [JURIST report]. In May, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense drugs [JURIST report] that they "reasonably believe" might result in the termination of a pregnancy. Earlier that month, a judge for the District Court of Oklahoma County ruled [JURIST report] that a law restricting how doctors may use abortion-inducing drugs to treat patients was a violation of the Oklahoma Constitution. In March, Utah passed a law requiring a woman seeking an abortion to wait 72 hours [JURIST report] prior to obtaining the procedure.

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