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Ninth Circuit Enjoins Ariz. Abortion Law, Fast Tracks Appeal

By Robyn Hagan Cain on August 02, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals won’t let Arizona enforce its new abortion law until the appellate court gets to review it.

Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit enjoined enforcement of the provisions of Arizona House Bill 2036 that restrict abortions starting at 20 weeks. The order will place H.B. 2036 on hold for at least two months, if not longer, reports

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed H.B. 2036 into law in April 2012. The bill restricts and criminalizes abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later, except in a "medical emergency." On Monday, District Judge James Teilborg rejected the constitutional challenges to the bill.

The law's supporters claim that H.B. 2036 protects maternal health, because abortions at 20 weeks or beyond are more dangerous than procedures performed earlier in pregnancy. They also said there is evidence that a fetus at that stage of development can feel pain, reports. Judge Teilborg seemed to agree. In his opinion, he wrote, "Given the nature of [dilation and evacuations] D&Es and induction abortions, as described above, and the finding that the unborn child has developed pain sensors all over its body by 20 weeks gestational age, this Court concludes that the State has shown a legitimate interest in limiting abortions past 20 weeks gestational age."

In addition to enjoining the Arizona abortion law less than 12 hours before it was set to take effect, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals fast-tracked the appeals process. The appellate court announced on Wednesday that it would expedite briefing and arguments on H.B. 2036.

The opening brief and excerpts of record are now due September 4, 2012; the answering brief is now due October 3, 2012; and the optional reply brief is due within 14 days after service of the answering brief.

The case, Isaacson v. Horne, will be placed on the first available argument calendar following the completion of briefing.

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