Republican legislators will defend Arizona law banning abortion due to ‘genetic abnormalities’

By Ray Stern || The Arizona Republic

A federal judge granted Arizona legislative leaders the right to intervene in a lawsuit against a state ban of abortions because of “genetic abnormalities,” ensuring a defense of the law will continue.

The lawsuit, previously defended by former Republican state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, might have folded up because the new Democratic Attorney General, Kris Mayes, has no interest in arguing for what she views as an “unconstitutional” law. That would have allowed abortions for conditions like Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis — which have been blocked since June — to resume in Arizona.

The case is one of three major, ongoing court proceedings concerning abortion rights in Arizona since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Two other cases in Arizona superior courts address the question of whether a pre-statehood law mandating prison time for abortion providers should take effect.

Arizona’s Senate President Warren Petersen, who co-sponsored the 2021 law, and House Speaker Ben Toma argued in a February court motion that they had “crucial interest” in defending state laws.

“When it became clear that AG Mayes would not defend Arizona’s law prohibiting discriminatory abortions, the Legislature had to step in,” said Toma, R-Glendale. “I applaud the federal court’s order recognizing our legislative authority and granting our motion to intervene to defend the constitutionality of this law.”

A lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, which is providing free legal services for the case, said the group is “pleased” with the ruling.

“While common sense says that this law deserves everyone’s support, abortionists and others with a vested interest in seeing such abortions continue have sued to tear it down,” senior counsel Denise Harle said in a written statement.


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March 2023