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Arizona won’t be banning abortions at 20 weeks, at least not yet.
In a brief order today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency request by foes of the law to keep it from taking effect while they appeal a lower court ruling which said the law is constitutional.
The judges gave no reason for their order.
Today’s ruling means at least a two month delay — if not more.
The court gave opponents of the law until Sept. 4 to file formal briefs on why they believe it is illegal. Supporters, so far led by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, then have until Oct. 3 to respond.
And the court gave the foes another two weeks after that to reply.
The law, approved earlier this year, was designed to supersede existing Arizona legislation which bans abortion at the point of fetal viability, considered to be from 22 to 24 weeks.
The stay is good, because a few days ago, this was the situation:
A federal judge today refused to stop a new law limiting abortions beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy from going into effect on Thursday.
Judge James Teilborg acknowledged that prior U.S. Supreme Court rulings have said states may not ban abortion outright before a fetus is considered viable. That is generally considered to be in the 22-24 week range.
But Teilborg said SB 2036 ‘does not impose a substantial obstacle to previability abortions.’ Instead, the judge wrote, the law only limits abortion between 20 weeks and the point of viability.
The judge also rejected arguments that the cutoff — beyond which abortions would be allowed only in case of the mother’s death or serious injury — will not deny women the right to abort a deformed fetus.
In his ruling, Teilborg said evidence submitted by one of the doctors ‘stops short of claiming that there are any conditions that could only by diagnosed after 20 weeks that could not have been found before that time.’ Instead, he cited the statement of a witness for the defense of the law.
‘The court finds that it would be extremely rare to find a condition that could be diagnosed after 20 weeks that could not have been diagnosed earlier,’ he wrote.
Now it’s up to the 9th Circuit.