Monday, December 27, 2021

Attorney General James Fights Arizona’s Unconstitutional Abortion Ban


 New York Attorney General Letitia James today continued her staunch opposition to the coordinated and unconstitutional attempt to roll back reproductive rights in the United States. As part of a coalition of 23 attorneys general, Attorney General James filed an amicus brief supporting a challenge to Arizona’s “reason ban” that prohibits abortion when it is sought because of the presence of a fetal abnormalityIn the brief, the coalition argues that dispelling discriminatory views about people living with disabilities and providing accurate information about fetal abnormalities can and should happen while preserving women's reproductive autonomy. The attorneys general urge the appeals court to uphold a district court order that enjoined Arizona’s “reason ban” before it took effect.

“Almost 50 years after Roe was decided, reproductive freedoms remain under constant assault,” said Attorney General James. “Arizona is just the latest in the long line of conservative-led states that are seeking to impose their will on millions of women with laws that aim to control our bodies, our choices, and our freedoms, but we will never stop fighting them. We’re asking the appeals court to uphold the lower court’s decision and strike down this unconstitutional law.”

In April, Arizona passed Senate Bill 1457 (SB 1457). The law bans abortions sought for a specific reason — because of a genetic abnormality — and makes it a felony for a provider to perform such an abortion. The law also contains a provision that purported to classify fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs as people starting at the point of conception.

SB 1457 was scheduled to take effect on September 29, 2021, but a district court temporarily blocked the reason ban — a decision that was then appealed by the state of Arizona.

In his order blocking the ban, Judge Douglas L. Rayes wrote that, under the law, a person who chooses to terminate a pre-viability pregnancy because of a fetal genetic abnormality would either have to “conceal this information from or lie to her doctor, neither of which fosters trust or encourages open dialogue.”

Similarly, in today’s brief — filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit — the coalition argues that the reason ban runs counter to standards of care established by medical professionals and ignores the myriad of ways that states may promote interest in fetal life and protect children born with genetic abnormalities. 

The attorneys general explain that states have the tools to dispel outdated and harmful views about disabilities while protecting reproductive rights. Additionally, the coalition states that providing medically accurate, unbiased information about fetal abnormalities can help pregnant individuals make informed reproductive choices. Further, providing people living with disabilities with civil rights protections, as well as social and medical services, can combat discrimination, reduce bias, and protect individuals living with disabilities. The coalition makes clear that both can be done without infringing on reproductive autonomy. 

Today’s brief comes as the country awaits the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization — a case involving the constitutionality of Mississippi’s pre-viability abortion ban. Attorney General James and a coalition of attorneys general opposed the law and Mississippi’s attempt to roll back half a century of precedents — beginning with Roe v. Wade — that protect the right to decide, before viability, whether to carry a pregnancy to term.

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