Federal court temporarily blocks Arizona abortion law
DarkoStojanovic / Pixabay
Federal court temporarily blocks Arizona abortion law

The US District Court for the District of Arizona on Tuesday blocked provisions of a restrictive Arizona abortion bill from taking effect. The Arizona legislature enacted SB 1457 in April 2021. The section of the bill at issue recognizes the “rights, privileges and immunities” of unborn children “at every stage of development” and bans abortions sought solely because of a fetus’ genetic abnormality.

Under the law, any doctor who performs an abortion because of a genetic abnormality of the child is guilty of a felony and subject to a prison sentence of up to two years. Pregnant people who seek abortion in these cases would be subject to up to 8.75 years in prison.

Plaintiffs Dr. Paul Isaacson and Dr. Eric Reuss filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. To obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must demonstrate “a likelihood of success on the merits, a likelihood that irreparable harm will occur in the absence of preliminary relief, and balance of equities that favors a preliminary injunction, and that the requested injunction is in the public interest.”

The court found that the plaintiffs “are likely to succeed” on their claims that the provision is “unconstitutionally vague and unduly burden[some] to the rights of women to terminate pre-viability pregnancies.” The judges then concluded that the remaining preliminary injunction elements were met. First, the deprivation of a constitutional right “unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.” Second, plaintiffs and their patients face “concrete harms” that the state does not face. Lastly, the court found that it is always in the public interest to protect constitutional rights.

The court noted that Arizona may enact legislation that expresses a preference for childbirth over abortion in cases of genetic abnormality. However, the Arizona law “is not designed to encourage women [to] choose childbirth; it is designed to thwart them from making any other choice.”