Thursday, October 1, 2009

CAP: State Court Stops New Abortion Measures from Taking Effect!

Late Tuesday, Maricopa County Judge Donald Daughton agreed with Planned Parenthood and decided that key provisions of Arizona's new abortion laws should not go into effect as scheduled on September 30. The judge gave no reasons for his decision but simply accepted Planned Parenthood's assertion that portions of the law should not be enforced while the lawsuit continues. Judge Daughton further denied our motion to intervene in the lawsuit.
For now, the judge's ruling has the following result:
  1. Non-doctors like nurse practitioners may continue to perform first trimester surgical abortions.
  2. Women do not have a right to an in-person consultation with a doctor 24 hours before having an abortion.
  3. A parent's consent to their minor daughter's abortion does not have to be notarized.
  4. Arizona's law granting rights of conscience protection does not cover abortion medication or pharmacists and pharmacy owners.

Judge Daughton's ruling, however, does allow these provisions to go into effect:

  1. 24-hour waiting period after the woman is provided information by a "qualified staff member" (although not necessarily in person), including the name of the doctor performing the abortion, the nature of the procedure, its risks and alternatives.
  2. Women cannot be coerced into having an abortion.
  3. Women cannot be forced to pay for an abortion before the 24-hour waiting period.
  4. Women have a right to sue if the information is not provided.
  5. Parents have a right to sue if the abortion clinic violates the parental consent statute.
In contrast, U.S. District Judge David Campbell in the federal case filed by Center for Reproductive Rights issued a 23-page ruling that abortion advocates had not met the legal standard for him to keep the law from being enforced.

We are very disappointed that Judge Daughton appeared to give little consideration to the needs of women considering an abortion. The blocked provisions are common sense regulations intended to protect the rights of women, parents, and health care professionals. Yesterday's rulings, however, are only "Round 1" in what promises to be a long legal battle.

CAP and our allies will continue to work to defend and protect these laws in their entirety. Now is not the time to grow weary or faint. Rather, it is the time to persevere. We very much appreciate your partnering with us to defend these laws.

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