The constitutionality of Arizona’s tough abortion law, banning abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, gets an airing today in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The three-judge panel includes two women, Judge Marsha Berzon, one of the more liberal members of the court and former Chief Judge Mary Schroeder, a Carter appointee, who comes down on the liberal side of the coin on social issues generally.
The third member of the panel is Judge Andrew Kleinfeld, a Bush Sr. appointee, and one of the most conservative members of the court.
The ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights have challenged the law on behalf of three doctors and their patients. The law has never been enforced because the 9th Circuit issued an emergency injunction barring implementation of the law until the courts sort out its legality.
The law criminalizes nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with a narrow exception for medical emergencies. The law would force doctors caring for women with high-risk pregnancies to wait until her condition reaches the point that she is in immediate threat of death or major medical damage.
The ban does not allow for abortions if a woman learns the fetus will not survive after birth.
Few abortions are performed after five months of pregnancy, but when it does it is generally linked to health threats for the mother or the fetus or when a miscarriage is inevitable, according to the ACLU.
U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg denied the ACLU request for an injunction on July 30, 2012. But the 9th Circuit stepped in to block the law.
The emergency order was signed by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, Judges Sidney Thomas and Sandra Ikuta on August 1.
To take a look at all the briefs in the case, check here.
Isaacson v. Horne, No. 12-16670