An Arizona law making it a crime for doctors to perform abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy can be enforced starting Aug. 2, a federal judge said.
U.S. District Judge James Teilborg in Phoenix said the measure “does not impose a substantial obstacle in previability abortions,” according to his ruling upholding the law. A challenge to the law was brought by three doctors who said it’s preempted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
Signed by Governor Jan Brewer in April, the law makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by as long as six months in jail, to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in a medical emergencies to prevent death or “irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”
The statute is the most extreme abortion ban in the nation, said the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the doctors along with lawyers from the the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The physicians claim no fetus is viable at 20 weeks, and that under Roe v. Wade and other cases, women have the right to terminate pregnancies before viability.
William Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney, which includes Phoenix, said enforcement of the law with its exception for medical emergencies is permitted by Roe v. Wade.
The case is Isaacson v. Horne, 12-01501, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).
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