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The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed an emergency motion Saturday in an effort to block the state’s 2021 “personhood” law that they argue could be used to ban all abortions in Arizona.
The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling Friday overturning Roe v. Wade, meaning states can now enforce their own laws regarding abortion rights.
Arizona has two abortion laws, one from more than 100 years ago that bans all abortions and one signed earlier this year that prohibits the procedure after 15 weeks with exceptions for cases to save the mother’s life.
Saturday’s motion challenges a 2021 law prohibiting abortions sought because an unborn child has a survivable genetic abnormality. That law makes it a felony for a doctor to terminate a pregnancy because of a genetic abnormality. The legislation also includes a “personhood” provision.
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A U.S. District Judge blocked a portion of the genetic abnormality law last year but opted against placing the “personhood” provision on hold. The provision notes that the state will interpret all laws to grant civil rights to unborn children.
The ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights claim the “personhood” provision subjects medical providers and pregnant women to potential prosecution, saying providers could be charged under several laws, including child endangerment or assault.
The Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative nonprofit lobbying group, said Saturday that the state Legislature approved the law to affirm that unborn children have full rights if Roe v. Wade were reversed.
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“The overturning of Roe allows the states to set abortion laws,” group president Cathi Herrod said. “Arizona set this law to say that unborn children are protected in the law.”
Herrod said she expects further challenges to Arizona’s abortion laws.
The case, which was filed on behalf of two abortion providers, argues that the “personhood” law is too vague.
The law states that civil and criminal laws should ensure the rights of fetuses, embryos and fertilized human eggs at any stage of development. According to the motion, the law does not offer guidance on applying it to abortion care.
Abortion providers across the state were forced to cease procedures following Friday’s 5-4 Supreme Court ruling.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.