Friday, September 2, 2022

BREAKING: ACLU & Abortion Rights Groups/Doctors Tell Judge SCOTUS Messed Up In Arizona Case, Reimpose Injunction Against Genetic Abnormality Law (READ Motion)

One of Arizona's several and overlapping anti-abortion laws is back in front of a judge today, after the ACLU and abortion rights groups and doctors ask the court to re-stop the 2021 law prohibiting abortions sought solely because of a genetic abnormality. 

The new Motion for a Preliminary Injunction (below) accuses the U.S. Supreme Court of over-stepping its bounds in late June when it dissolved the previous injunction. This gets a little into the legal weeds, so let's break it down:

1. In its 2021 legislative session, the Arizona Legislature passed a law that did two different things - prohibited abortions sought solely due to a genetic abnormality ("Reason Regulations") and granted fetuses "personhood" (aka "Interpretation Policy"). Governor Ducey signed it.

2. The Arizona Medical Association, ACLU-Arizona, abortion rights groups and doctors filed a federal suit to stop both portions of the law.

3.  In September 2021, Judge Douglas Rayes enjoins the "Reason Regulations" but declines to stop the "personhood" provisions.

4.  As part of the appeal process, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich asks the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the genetic abnormality portion of the law to go into effect while the appeal is pending. (The Supreme Court holds that emergency request for months as it is deciding the Dobbs case.)

5.  On June 30, the Supreme Court treats Brnovich's motion as a Petition for Writ of Certiorari and reverses and remands the case to the District Court (ultimately) to find in accordance with Dobbs. Thus, it dissolves the injunction against the genetic abnormality portion.

          6.  On July 11, Judge Rayes does grant an injunction against the "personhood"                      provisions, and also tells the state that they cannot retroactively use the provisions to           prosecute persons. 

7.  Today's Motion to re-impose the injunction argues to the Court that Judge Rayes' September 2021 decision also found that the Reason Regulations should be stayed because they are unconstitutionally vague, and that that is not impacted by the Dobbs decision. They reiterate their vagueness arguments.

This case is only part of what keeps the legal landscape of abortion rights in Arizona under a fog. The Arizona Legislature's  2022-passed 15-week ban goes into effect in three weeks, and the Territorial-era ban is pending determination in Pima County Superior Court. (That determination is also expected later this month.)

Today's Motion notes because of the uncertainty in the law's language that Paul Isaacson, the lead plaintiff and a physician at Family Planning Associates, has had to "err on the side of caution and deny abortion care to any of my patients whom I know have a fetal diagnosis, even if that diagnosis could arguably fall within one of the exceptions." Isaacson also notes that the vague genetic abnormality provisions will even be an issue before 15 weeks, due to earlier screenings that sometimes indicate the potential for abnormalities.

This article was reported by AZ Law founder Paul Weich. Paul was running for a seat in Arizona's House of Representatives.

"AZ Law" includes articles, commentaries and updates about opinions from the Arizona Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, as well as trial and appellate courts, etc. AZ Law is founded by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich, and joins Arizona's Politics on the internet. 

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UPDATE - TRYING TO UNTANGLE ARIZONA'S ABORTION KNOT: Doctors Tell Judge Why Arizona's 2021 Abortion Ban Must Be Stopped In Light Of Renewed 1864 Ban (READ Motion)

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