Arizona law granting human rights to fetuses blocked by federal judge

A law passed last year gave fetuses at each stage of development “all rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of this state.”

By Stacey Barchenger | Arizona Republic

Acknowledging that the law on abortion in Arizona is “murky,” a federal judge on Monday issued an order halting enforcement of a 2021 statute that grants human rights to fetuses.

U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes’ 17-page order says that the law is too vague and risks arbitrary enforcement, siding with abortion rights advocates who filed their challenge one day after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade case in June.

Rayes cited the state’s own argument defending the so-called “personhood” law in his decision, noting that lawyers for Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich conceded in court filings that it was “anyone’s guess” how the law applies.

“And that is the problem,” he wrote. “When the punitive and regulatory weight of the entire Arizona code is involved, plaintiffs should not have to guess at whether their conduct is on the right or the wrong side of the law.”

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

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