By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services
Arizona is free to tell women they can’t have an abortion if the reason is because of genetic fetal defect, even if it is prior to viability, the state’s top prosecutor is arguing in court.
In a new court filing, Attorney General Mark Brnovich acknowledges that SB1457, approved earlier this year by the Republican-controlled legislature, would block some women from getting an abortion in Arizona even before a fetus is able to live outside the womb. That viability standard has been the constitutional touchstone for more than 40 years in determining whether the state can interfere with what the Supreme Court has held is a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.
Under the law, set to take effect Sept. 29, medical professionals in violation could be sentenced to up to a year in state prison, though women who undergo these procedures are exempt from criminal prosecution.
In challenging the law last month, attorney Emily Nester of the Center for Reproductive Rights told U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes there is a long line of federal court rulings that say the government has no role in decisions made prior to a fetus being viable.
“This ban targets pregnant people who face complex and personal considerations as a result of fetal genetic screening or diagnostic testing during routine prenatal care, including decisions about what is best for them and their families, and then intrudes upon that private decision-making by wrenching away their right to choose pre-viability abortion,” Nester wrote. And she wants Rayes to block it from taking effect as scheduled.
But Brnovich, in his latest filings, told Rayes that the law should be seen not as restricting a woman’s right to abortion but instead as extending the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act to the unborn.