Attorneys faced off Wednesday in federal court over the legality of a new state law banning abortions after 20 weeks.
Janet Crepps of the Center for Reproductive Rights told Judge James Teilborg the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled states have no right to impose such a restriction prior to viability, considered to be in the 22-24 week range. But Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said Teilborg should defer to the decision of Arizona lawmakers.
"That line of viability is not a fixed date on a calendar," Montgomery said. "There are a lot of factors that have to be taken into account."
In fact Montgomery said lawmakers should be free to ban all elective abortions.
"I would recognize the inherent human dignity in a life at the moment of conception," he said. "And unless it impacted the health and welfare of the mother. In which case I would not define that as an abortion. I would define that as a procedure that was intended to deal with specific risks and challenges that that woman faced."
But Janet Crepps, with the Center for Reproductive Rights said requiring a woman to justify her decision to have an abortion is insulting -- and illegal.
"That's treating women as if they have no autonomy interests here," she said. "And it's not what's required by the constitution. In fact, the constitution requires exactly the opposite, which is, before viability, the decision is made by the doctor. And the courts and the Legislature have no place."
Judge Teilborg has to decide whether to let the law take effect as scheduled next week.