Abortion rights advocates ask judge to block ‘personhood’ law; AG says it won’t lead to child abuse charges

By Stacey Barchenger |Arizona Republic

A 2021 law granting embryos and fetuses human rights cannot be used to prosecute abortion doctors for certain crimes like child abuse, a lawyer for Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich told a federal judge Friday.

The comment was the first public statement about how the state’s top prosecutor views that law, but is unlikely to provide clarity in the otherwise chaotic landscape for abortion rights in Arizona following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Brnovich maintains that most abortions are banned since in the wake of the decision, citing a pre-statehood law. Eight of nine licensed clinics in the state have stopped abortion services due to the uncertainty.

To get answers on at least one aspect of where abortion laws now stand, several abortion rights groups asked a federal judge stop enforcement of last year’s law granting rights to the unborn. Lawyers made their case in court Friday morning, but U.S. District Judge Douglas L. Rayes did not say immediately what action he’d take.

Often called a “personhood” or “interpretation” provision, the law passed last year and signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey gives fetuses at each stage of development “all rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of this state.” 

Groups asking the judge to halt enforcement of the personhood law include the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, Center For Reproductive Rights, National Council of Jewish Women Arizona, Arizona Medical Association and Arizona National Organization for Women.


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