Judge upholds Arizona fetal pain bill, takes effect this week
PHOENIX, July 31, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A federal judge has upheld a new Arizona law banning abortion after 20 weeks gestation based on the child’s ability to feel pain, opening the door to its implementation this week.
The Mother’s Health and Safety Act, which was signed in April, makes Arizona the ninth state to have approved such a ban, now set to go into effect Wednesday. The movement to ban abortion after 20 weeks has grown since a similar bill took effect in Nebraska in 2010. The latest addition may be the District of Columbia, if the U.S. House approves its own such bill for the District of Columbia in a vote scheduled for Tuesday evening (H.R. 3803).
U.S. District Judge James Teilborg ruled that the Arizona law is constitutional because of the greater risk to a mother from abortions after 20 weeks gestation. Also, because the scientific data proving children not yet born feel pain is substantial and “uncontradicted,” indicating that the child feels the process of dismemberment in the D&E abortion method normally used at such a stage of pregnancy, wrote Teilborg, the state had an interest in such a ban.
Teilborg cited Gonzales v. Carhart, the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the federal partial-birth abortion ban, saying, “There is no question that the ‘government may use its voice and its regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the life within the woman.’”
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He denied requests for both a preliminary and a permanent injunction from the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the law to court July 12 on behalf of three abortionists. Plaintiffs argued that the measure violated Roe v. Wade by banning abortions before viability at 24 weeks gestation.
Pro-life Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer hailed the decision, and noted it would also bolster parental consent and informed consent regulations already on the books, as well as other patient safety rules including hospital access.
“Simply put, this measure is about protecting Arizona women and children,” said Brewer, a Republican, in a statement Monday. “I recognize that the issue of abortion remains a controversial one. With the Mother’s Health and Safety Act, I’m hopeful most Arizonans can find common ground.”
A poll commissioned by the National Right to Life Committee this month found 63 percent of American adults agreeing that abortion should be banned after an unborn child is able to feel pain.
After Nebraska passed a fetal pain abortion ban in 2010, a move that prompted lone late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart to set up shop in Maryland, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma followed suit the same year. Georgia and Louisiana also approved similar bans this year. North Carolina also bans abortion after 20 weeks, but its law does not cite fetal pain.
Pro-life leaders welcomed another victory for the effort to ban abortions based on the pain they inflict. Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life said his own group has been working to expose the typical D&E abortion as a gruesome practice that would never meet with public approval should it be exposed.
“The abortion debate should not be so abstract that we forget we’re talking about pulling the arms and legs off of babies,” said Pavone in a statement Tuesday. “To those asking for our vote in November, I ask, do you or do you not think dismemberment should be legal? Every voter should ask the same.”