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Anti-abortion rights groups appeal ongoing lawsuit against Arizona consent law

As more states pass abortion bills with new regulations and restrictions, the effects of those previously passed are beginning to show through –- in lawsuits. Across the country, Planned Parenthood affiliates have filed suits challenging anti-abortion rights legislation that in some way targets the abortion provider and its services.

The legal battle surrounding a 2009 abortion law is still going strong in Arizona, after the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliate filed a lawsuit in September of that year challenging the constitutionality of the the Arizona Abortion Consent Act (PDF) after it was signed into law two months earlier. At the time, the Arizona Superior Court for Maricopa County granted Planned Parenthood’s preliminary injunction and effectively stalled the law. In March 2010, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a legal alliance of Christian attorneys, appealed the judge’s order in conjunction with the Center for Arizona Policy (which helped draft the bill), the Bioethics Defense Fund and the Life Legal Defense Foundation.

On Tuesday afternoon, counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund is arguing at the Arizona Court of Appeals in Phoenix on behalf of the bill’s sponsors, Sens. Linda Gray and Nancy Barto (Barto was an Arizona House representative when she sponsored the bill), as well as several organizations (PDF), including the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Arizona Catholic Conference and the Crisis Pregnancy Centers of Greater Phoenix.

What the law as signed did:

  • Prohibit non-physicians from performing surgical abortions.
  • Require women to be told abortion alternatives, “long-term medical risks” associated with abortion, the probable gestational age of the unborn child. All of this information must be consumed at least 24 hours before the scheduled abortion, during which time the woman must wait before receiving the abortion.
  • Allow for health care workers to refuse to perform or facilitate abortion procedures.
  • Require minors seeking abortions to first produce notarized parental consent.

Testifying on Tuesday is ADF senior counsel Steven H. Aden.

“The protection of women should not be on hold while the nation’s largest abortion purveyor ties things up in court,” Aden said in a press release sent out Monday.

During Arizona’s recently-concluded legislative session, Gov. Jan Brewer signed 16 Center for Arizona Policy-supported bills, all to go into effect July 20. On Monday, the conservative policy group sent out an email to supporters asking them to pray that these laws go unchallenged in court. The letter also asked supporters to pray for a favorable outcome of Tuesday’s hearing, specifically that “the Lord grants the three-judge panel wisdom to understand why this law is so critical for our state.”

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