Constitutional Law

9th Circuit Temporarily Blocks Arizona Abortion Law


A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked enforcement of a controversial new Arizona law that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

On Wednesday, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted (PDF) a request by opponents of the new law to temporarily halt enforcement of the statute, which was set to take effect today, pending an appeal of a lower court’s ruling, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports.

The appeals court said it would expedite the appeal, and it would probably hear arguments in the fall.

The decision comes just two days after a federal judge refused to block the statute, saying it didn’t impose a “substantial obstacle” to the procedure and was consistent with standards set by federal courts.

The law, which was passed by the state’s Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in April, would criminalize most abortions after 20 weeks, except in medical emergencies.

Under the law, those found guilty of violating the prohibition could be convicted of a misdemeanor, and doctors could have their medical licenses suspended or revoked.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights are challenging the law on behalf of three doctors and their patients.

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