About a year ago, we discussed a measure signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), banning most abortions in the state after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Soon after, the 20-week standard became the new expectation for opponent of abortion rights in Republican-led states everywhere.
As of today, however, the law is no more.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law violates a string of U.S. Supreme Court rulings starting with Roe v. Wade that guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion before a fetus is able to survive outside the womb. That’s generally considered to be about 24 weeks. Normal pregnancies run about 40 weeks
Several states have enacted similar bans starting at 20 weeks. But the 9th Circuit’s ruling is binding only in the nine Western states under the court’s jurisdiction. Idaho is the only other state in the region covered by the 9th Circuit with a similar ban.
The entire ruling is online here (pdf). It was, incidentally, a unanimous ruling of the three-judge panel.
It’s probably safe to assume that the Brewer administration will appeal, either to the entire 9th Circuit, seeking an en banc ruling, or to the U.S. Supreme Court (or probably both). To be sure, it’s an important case anyway, but if it’s headed for the high court, the case, Isaacson v. Horne, may prove to be one of the most important reproductive-rights cases in many years.