Good news! The Ninth Circuit has struck down Arizona’s law [PDF] that would ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation. The court said what we have been saying all along: this law is unconstitutional. “Because [the law] deprives the women to whom it applies of the ultimate decision to terminate their pregnancies prior to fetal viability, it is unconstitutional under a long line of invariant Supreme Court precedents.” (Emphasis my own.)
This decision overturned a lower court’s decision upholding Arizona’s law. In doing so, the court rejected Arizona’s argument that the law did not actually prohibit abortion because it allowed abortions in cases of medical emergencies. Seeing through this argument, the Court had this pointed response: “Allowing a physician to decide if abortion is medically necessary is not the same as allowing a woman to decide whether to carry her own pregnancy to term.” Enough said.
While we take a moment to sigh relief that a court has stopped this type of unconstitutional legislation pushed by extreme politicians seeking to interfere with women’s decisionmaking, the fight isn’t over yet. Indeed, in just two days, the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice is holding a hearing on a 20 week ban bill introduced by Rep. Trent Franks. Although it currently only tries to ban abortions in D.C. (as if that weren’t bad enough), Rep. Franks has announced his intention to change it so that it applies nationwide. I hope Rep. Franks and others pushing these bans read the Ninth Circuit’s opinion and reflect on what they are doing — denying a woman the decision whether to carry her own pregnancy to term. Rep. Franks and others don’t walk in those women’s shoes. They shouldn’t be able to then deny women the right to make that important decision for themselves.