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Ariz. Court Hears Argument Over Abortion Law

Ariz. Court Hears Argument Over Abortion Law

June 16, 2011 — A three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals on Tuesday heard arguments about whether to overturn a lower-court ruling that halted the enactment of parts of a 2009 abortion law, the Arizona Republic reports.

In 2009, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Donald Daughton issued a preliminary injunction against the specific provision in the law restricting abortion access that banned anyone except physicians from performing surgical abortions. He also halted provisions in the measure that required physicians to meet with the patient at least 24 hours before the procedure, required notarized parental consent for minors, and allowed pharmacists and other medical professionals to refuse to provide abortion or contraceptive services.

Attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, argued that Daughton incorrectly halted the law. State Solicitor General Dave Cole said the state is "not dealing with statutory provisions that take away any right to abortion," adding that the law only puts restrictions on the procedure. Deborah Sheasby -- an attorney for the Center for Arizona Policy, the conservative group that authored the law -- said the state can regulate fundamental rights without substantially depriving any residents of their rights.

However, Planned Parenthood attorney Jennifer Sandman said the regulations unfairly restrict abortion and add limitations unlike those for any other medical procedure. "The Legislature cannot single out abortion and treat it differently from any other medical service," she argued. Planned Parenthood of Arizona President Bryan Howard said the law imposes a significant burden on women "while serving no interest in terms of women's health and safety" (Beard Rau, Arizona Republic, 6/15).