Last April, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed a measure into law 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 – and court fights soon followed.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the state law is unconstitutional, and the Brewer administration took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. As Irin Carmon explained, the justices declined to hear the case.
That’s good news for pro-choice advocates, who had successfully argued at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the law violated the standard set by Roe v. Wade by banning abortion well before viability. Attorneys for abortion providers had told the court the appeals court decision “faithfully follows this Court’s precedents, is in conflict with the decision of no other court, and thus merits no further review.” They added, “Two generations of American women and families have come of age, depending on constitutional protection for their reproductive decisions.”The Court’s choice to let that decision stand means that Arizona’s ban, which drew the line two weeks earlier than other states with such bans did, won’t be enforced, nor will a similar one in Idaho, which also falls in the Ninth Circuit.
It’s worth noting, of course, that the Supreme Court not hearing a case is not the same thing as ruling on the merits. But in a situation like this, there are practical implications – 20-week bans in Arizona and Idaho are no more.
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards in a statement, “Today the Court did the right thing, but women’s health is still on the docket – not only at the Supreme Court, but in active cases all across the country. This unprecedented assault against women’s constitutional rights shows it’s time for new leaders who value women’s health. A dangerous and blatantly unconstitutional law like Arizona’s abortion ban should have never passed in the first place.”