Arizona Law H.B. 2036 Which Criminalizes Abortions After 20 Weeks Is Upheld

by PhilBalbo on August 7, 2012

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This article was contributed by Jenny Kim.

The Arizona Bill H.B. 2036, approved by Governor Brewer on April 12, 2012, has been upheld by a federal court, allowing the state to ban abortions for any fetus past a 20 week gestation period. While the Supreme Court has previously ruled against abortion bans for pregnancies under a 23 week period, Judge James Teilborg, who presided over the case, claimed that his ruling stayed within the scope founded by Roe v. Wade noting that abortions for pregnancies past 20 weeks which could save the health of the mother are still allowable.

The issues of abortion and a woman’s right over her body have been a topic of constant debate, with many concerns stemming from landmark cases such as Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut. As was expected, the American Civil Liberties Union had opposed the law and brought the issue to trial, claiming that the statute’s limitations posed a unconstitutional standard on women who were within the 23 week gestation period. The activist group will appeal the decision, as the the ACLU attorney Alexa Kolbi- Molinas claimed Judge Teilborg ignored the ruling of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, as the exceptions he cited are not enough to rule out the law as a ban on previability abortions.

Many states and criminal lawyers differ on their abortion laws, as they approach the issue from many different angles. For example, Maryland uses a viability clause, while Virginia allows for abortions through the first and second trimesters. With Arizona joining the ranks of six other states who have a 20 week viability law, it seems the topic is only becoming more convoluted. Arizona’s stance on abortion should be of no surprise however, as the state leans towards the conservative side on the political spectrum. As their recent immigration laws made waves throughout the nation, this ruling matches rather equally with the general ideology of the population.

While it’s becoming more clear where the science of abortion may draw it’s lines, the political side of the coin will remain a contentious issue. It’s difficult to favor an unborn individual in court as the decision must take into account the potential of life, while arguing against the rights and liberties of a life which already exists: the mother’s. There are many reasons to appreciate both sides of the topic, such as defining the viability of life leading to a “slippery slope” argument, while also discussing the economics of producing a child into an unprepared home situation. Many don’t realize the issue is not merely “the sanctity of life”, and in fact, there are various concerns that must be addressed before a decision on abortion can be properly made. However, as the facts boil down, it seems that those in favor will consistently claim the government should stay out of this issue and provide a choice, while those opposed will claim life is to precious regardless of extenuating circumstances, leading any abortion to be akin to murder.

The new law in Arizona is just a glimpse to the topic as a whole, and this ruling is unlikely to be the end of the discussion within the state and among their population. Regardless, Arizona now belongs to a minority of states that bans abortion during the previability term, so long as certain guidelines are met, according to Judge Teilborg. This issue of criminal defense with abortions is still one that has not been solved.

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