Pro-choice groups file lawsuit to block Arizona’s 20-week abortion ban

This April, Arizona passed a 20-week abortion ban and joined, in Chloe’s words, the world’s shittiest club. But thanks to a lawsuit filed by pro-choice groups and three doctors in Arizona, hopefully the law will be blocked before it goes into effect next month. The New York Times reports:

The law, set to take effect on Aug. 2, prohibits abortions once 20 weeks have passed since a woman’s last menstrual period, which is about 18 weeks after fertilization. This is the earliest deadline set by any state and is weeks earlier than the threshold set by the Supreme Court.

In Roe v. Wade and related decisions, the court ruled that women have a right to abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, often about 24 weeks, and that any ban on later abortions must allow exceptions to protect the life and health of the mother.

Such bans, which have been adopted in eight other states (Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Nebraska) since 2010, are based on the scientifically unsound premise that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. CRR calls them “flatly unconstitutional” since Roe v. Wade grants a right to abortion up to viability–at around 24 weeks–and bans after that must allow exceptions to protect the life and health of the mother. Arizona’s law is extra unconstitutional since it’s a couple weeks earlier than the other states.

Just 1.5 percent of abortions are performed after 20 weeks anyway. When they are, it’s usually because women couldn’t access an earlier abortion or they found out about a fetal anomaly or other health complication in the second trimester. So laws like these just have a terribly cruel impact on women who are in awful situations. People like Danielle and Robb who were victims of Nebraska’s 20-week ban.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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