Judges in Ariz., Ohio Make Rulings on Abortion Bans

Procedure can once more take place in these 2 states, at least for now
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 8, 2022 6:30 AM CDT
Abortions Can Take Place Once More in 2 States, for Now
A woman protests outside the Arizona Capitol to voice her dissent with an abortion ruling on Sept. 23 in Phoenix. An Arizona judge had ruled the state could enforce a near-total ban on abortions that has been blocked for nearly 50 years   (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Abortions can take place again in Arizona, at least for now, after an appeals court on Friday blocked enforcement of a pre-statehood law that almost entirely criminalized the procedure. The three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals agreed with Planned Parenthood that a judge shouldn't have lifted the decades-old order that prevented the older law from being imposed, per the AP. The brief order written by presiding Judge Peter J. Eckerstrom said Planned Parenthood and its Arizona affiliate had shown they're likely to prevail on an appeal of a decision by the judge in Tucson to allow enforcement of the old law. Planned Parenthood had argued the lower court judge should've considered a host of laws restricting abortions passed since the original injunction was put in place after the US Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that said women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

Those laws include a new one blocking abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy that took effect last month. The previous limit was 24 weeks, the viability standard established by now-overruled US Supreme Court cases. "Arizona courts have a responsibility to attempt to harmonize all of this state's relevant statutes," Eckerstrom wrote, mirroring arguments made by attorneys for Planned Parenthood. The US Supreme Court overruled Roe in June, and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, then asked that the injunction blocking enforcement of the pre-statehood abortion be lifted. Pima Court Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson agreed on Sept. 23 and lifted the order two weeks ago. The appeals court has set a hearing for next week to consider whether to set an expedited schedule for hearing Planned Parenthood's full appeal.

Meanwhile, a similar scenario is playing out in Ohio, where a law banning virtually all abortions will remain blocked while a state constitutional challenge proceeds, a judge said Friday in a ruling that will allow pregnancy terminations through 20 weeks' gestation to continue for now, per the AP. Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Christian Jenkins, who issued the preliminary injunction from the bench after a daylong hearing, knocked the state's arguments that the Ohio Constitution doesn't ever mention abortion and so doesn't protect the right to one. He said a right doesn't have to be named to be protected. "This court has no difficulty holding that the Ohio Constitution confers a fundamental right on all of Ohioans to privacy, procreation, bodily integrity, and freedom of choice in health care decision-making that encompasses the right to abortion," he said. The state is expected to appeal.

(More abortion stories.)

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