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Arizona Abortion Restrictions Challenged by Doctors, ACLU

Arizona’s restriction on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy was challenged by a group of doctors and the American Civil Liberties Union three weeks before the law is scheduled to take effect.

Three Arizona obstetricians and gynecologists represented by lawyers for the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a complaint yesterday in federal court in Phoenix. The law making abortion after 20 weeks a misdemeanor punishable by as long as six months’ incarceration violates the Constitution, they said.

“Under clearly established U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the State of Arizona cannot ban abortions prior to viability,” the physicians said. “With its narrowly defined medical-emergency exception, the ban also unconstitutionally endangers women’s health.”

The doctors asked the court to rule the ban violates their patients’ right to due process of law and to bar its enforcement.

The statute is the most extreme ban in the nation, the ACLU said in a statement. It would force a physician to wait until a woman’s high-risk pregnancy deteriorates so far that her life is at risk or that she faces major medical damage, according to the statement.

“Arizonans expect their attorney general to vigorously defend the state’s laws,” Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said in an e-mailed statement. “As attorney general, I am committed to doing that, and this law will be no exception.”

The case is Isaacson v. Horne, 12-01501, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).

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