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Appeal Filed Over Ariz. Ban on Abortions Based on Sex of Fetus

Appeal Filed Over Ariz. Ban on Abortions Based on Sex of Fetus

March 14, 2014 — Two civil rights organizations on Wednesday appealed a federal judge's dismissal of their lawsuit challenging a 2011 Arizona law (HB 2442) banning abortions based on the sex or race of the fetus, the AP/U-T San Diego reports.

U.S. District Judge David Campbell in October ruled that the Maricopa County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum did not have legal standing to pursue their lawsuit.

The groups on Wednesday asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the dismissal (AP/U-T San Diego, 3/12).

The 2011 Arizona law makes it a felony for anyone to knowingly perform or finance an abortion sought because of the fetus' sex or race. It also requires physicians to question abortion patients about their reasons for seeking the procedure and sign an affidavit swearing that the fetus' sex or race is not a factor. The affidavit is then included in a woman's medical records and can be accessed by the state medical board and prosecutors.

Lawsuit Background

In May 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona challenged the law on behalf of the NAACP's Maricopa County branch and NAPAWF. In the suit, ACLU of Arizona argued that the law is unconstitutional because it violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. Specifically, the suit said the law aims to reduce the number of black and Asian women who have abortions and is "based on racist and discriminatory stereotypes" about both groups.

In July 2013, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne (R) asked a federal judge to dismiss the suit, saying it does not illegally discriminate but rather requires the identical treatment of all women.

Horne also argued that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs had no legal standing to challenge the law. According to the attorney general, neither group had evidence that its members are harmed by the law or even intend to undergo a race- or sex-based abortion.

Campbell appeared to agree with Horne's claims, saying the plaintiffs have failed to provide evidence that any individual has suffered a personal injury because of the law and as such have no right to challenge the law. The ruling was made solely on procedural grounds and did not address the constitutionality of the law (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/7/13).