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Landmark Court Victory: AZ 20 Week Abortion Restriction Upheld

July 30, 2012. Phoenix, Arizona. Bioethics Defense Fund is pleased to announce a landmark victory in federal district court upholding a cutting-edge Arizona law that restricts abortion at 20 weeks except in cases of medical emergency “to avert her death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” A normal pregnancy is 40 weeks, so this restriction applies to late-term abortions where the unborn child is nearly 6 months gestation.

Victorious Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery
and his civil chief Doug Irish with BDF counsel

Bioethics Defense Fund attorneys Nikolas T. Nikas and Dorinda Bordlee provided intense legal consultation to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, a lead defendant in the emergency injunction action filed 10 days ago by the ACLU and the New York based Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of three late-term abortion providers.

The challenged Act, AZ H.B. 2036, included pages of medical findings concerning documented risks to women’s health and the strong medical evidence that unborn children feel pain during an abortion at that gestational age.

In today’s ruling, federal district Judge Teilborg concluded:

“Given the nature of D&Es and induction abortions, as described above, and the finding that the unborn child has developed pain sensors all over its body by 20 weeks gestational age, this Court concludes that the State has shown a legitimate interest in limiting abortions past 20 weeks gestational age. Further, in promulgating H.B. 2036, Arizona expressed concerns for the health of the pregnant woman, finding that the instance of complications is highest after twenty weeks of gestation. This additional legitimate interest further supports H.B. 2036′s regulation on abortions after 20 weeks gestational age.”

BDF president Nikolas Nikas stated, “In this case, the abortion industry’s radical agenda of unfettered access to late-term abortion was met with defeat by a well-reasoned decision by federal district judge William Teilborg. The decision cited strong evidence supporting the danger of abortion to women’s health and the brutal pain inflicted on unborn children. Bioethics Defense Fund is honored to be of service to County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who did an outstanding job defending the law at the hearing against professional abortion lawyers. The judge’s ruling was nothing less than complete and total defeat of the abortion lawyers’ case which was based on rank speculation with no actual woman claiming a harm and no concrete facts.”

BDF’s Dorinda Bordlee said that the extraordinary oral argument transcript and ruling describing the brutal D&E method are available on the website. “This ruling should be studied by everyone in the pro-life movement,” said Bordlee, “because it foreshadows the day that the Supreme Court will return the abortion issue back to the state legislatures to act on their legitimate interests in protecting women and unborn children from the unspeakable violence of abortion.”

  • Read the district court ruling here.
  • Read the oral argument transcript here.
  • Read H.B. 2036 here.
  • Media Contacts:
    Nikolas T. Nikas, Bioethics Defense Fund,
    Dorinda C. Bordlee, Bioethics Defense Fund, 504-231-7234

    Bioethics Defense Fund is a national public-interest organization that puts law in the service of life via model legislation, litigation and public education.

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