ACLU sues over Arizona abortion ban

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The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona filed a legal challenge to the Arizona law banning pre-viability abortions.

The ACLU says the law is the most extreme ban in the nation, criminalizing virtually all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and containing the narrowest possible exception for only immediate medical emergencies.

The plaintiffs are two doctors whose patients include women in need of the medical care.

A third doctor, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, also is a plaintiff in the suit.

The ban, set to take effect on Aug. 2,  would force a physician caring for a woman with a high-risk pregnancy to wait until her condition imposes an immediate threat of death or major medical damage before offering her the care she needs, according to a news release from the ACLU.

The ban also contains no exceptions for a woman who receives a diagnosis that the fetus will not survive after birth.

“Any number of things can happen during a pregnancy, and a woman has to be able to make the right decision for herself and her family,” stated Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Whether a woman decides to continue with a high-risk pregnancy or terminate it, the important thing is that women, families and physicians make these decisions – not politicians without any medical training.”

Few abortions occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy, so a woman who has an abortion at this point does so usually for health safety reasons.

The pregnancy may pose a threat to the woman’s health,  the fetus has been diagnosed with a medical condition or anomaly or that the pregnancy has failed and miscarriage is inevitable.

The Arizona Section of the American Congress of Obstetrics & Gynecology has criticized the ban as violating standard practice and interfering with the doctor-patient relationship in a way that is adverse to women’s health.

“No court has ever upheld such an extreme and dangerous abortion ban,” stated Dan Pochoda, legal director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Instead of passing unconstitutional laws and blocking women’s access to critical health services, our legislators should be working to ensure that all women get the care they need to have healthy pregnancies and protect their families.”

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said he would fight the lawsuit.

Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed the legislation in April. Brewer is perhaps best known on a national level is the defender of Arizona's anti-immigrant legislation. She recently asked the U.S. Supreme Court to remove an injunction preventing Arizona from eliminating domestic partnership benefits for state workers.

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