Docs Sue Over State's New Anti-Abortion Law

Jul 12, 2012

Three doctors who perform abortions filed suit today in federal court to stop the state from enforcing a new law which bans terminating a pregnancy after 20 weeks.

Current Arizona law bans abortions after viability -- generally considered in the neighborhood of 23 weeks -- except in emergencies. This law sets the cutoff at 20 weeks, a point at which some have argued a fetus can feel pain. But attorney Janet Crepps from the Center for Reproductive Rights said that violates prior rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Prior to viability, states can't ban abortions," Crepps said.  "And that's exactly what Arizona has done here. And it's just really an unbelievable display of hostility toward women's lives and health and fundamental rights. And that why we felt we had to challenge it."

But Cathi Herrod of the anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy said she believes the measure is legal. And she brushed aside prior court rulings making viability the dividing line.

"That's not the issue here," Herrod said. "The issue is whether states have the right to protect the health and safety of women because there's an increased risk to the health of women having abortions after 20 weeks. That's the issue."

Challengers are asking Judge James Teilborg for an immediate injunction, as without it the law takes effect in less than three weeks.