Court won't revive Arizona's 20-week abortion ban

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 13, 2014 at 6:56 pm •  Published: January 13, 2014
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PHOENIX (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Arizona's attempt to implement a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a development that doesn't disturb most of the similar prohibitions that other states have on the books.

The justices declined to reconsider a federal appeals court's ruling that the Arizona law violates a woman's constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is able to survive outside the womb.

"Viability" of a fetus is generally considered to start at 24 weeks. Normal pregnancies run about 40 weeks.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed the ban into law in April 2012. Nine other states have enacted similar bans starting at 20 weeks or even earlier.

In its ruling last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said such bans violate a long string of Supreme Court rulings starting with the seminal Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

However, most other states' 20-week bans haven't been challenged in court, and the 9th Circuit's ruling is binding only in its nine-state territory, which also includes Idaho.

Other states with 20-week bans include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas. The Kansas ban technically starts at 22-weeks, but the state starts counting the point of conception from an earlier point.

Georgia's ban has been enjoined on state constitutional grounds, said Janet Crepps, a lawyer for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Texas enacted its 20-week ban as part of a 2013 abortion law. Opponents have challenged the Texas law's requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals but not the 20-week ban.

Supporters of the Arizona ban argued that it protected women's health and prevented fetuses from experiencing pain. Whether fetuses can feel pain before viability is disputed.

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