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RH Reality Check

Ninth Circuit Court Blocks Arizona's Extreme Abortion Ban

As women across the country celebrate the first day of coverage without co-pays of a wide range of preventive care services, including contraception without a co-pay, health and rights groups are fighting in the courts to maintain access to safe abortion care at the state level.

And yesterday afternoon, they won a battle in that fight.

On Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit blocked enforcement of Arizona's 20-week abortion ban, signed into law earlier this year by Governor Jan Brewer. On Monday night, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union filed an emergency appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court seeking an injunction blocking the law from going into effect tomorrow, after a district court judge refused to do so.


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The bill is considered by many to be the most restrictive ban in the nation, and may present a direct challenge to Roe. Based on false claims that a fetus at 20-weeks' gestation can feel pain, it criminalizes virtually all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and contains only narrow exceptions for medical emergencies, forcing a physician caring for a woman with a high-risk pregnancy to wait until her condition poses an immediate threat of death or major medical damage before offering her the care she needs.

The ban also contains no exceptions for a woman who is told her fetus will not survive after birth.

“We are relieved that the court blocked this dangerous ban and that women in Arizona will continue to be able to get safe, appropriate medical care,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Abortion is a serious, personal decision that should be made by a woman, her family and her doctor – not by politicians.”

Jodi Jacobson

Jodi L. Jacobson is a long-time leader in the health and development community and an advocate with extensive experience in public health, gender equity, human rights, environment and demographic issues. She is currently Editor-in-Chief of RH Reality Check.

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