“This terrible decision from the 9th Circuit ignores the growing body of evidence that late-term abortions are dangerous for women” noted AUL’s Dr. Charmaine Yoest. “And yet a woman receiving an abortion at 20 weeks is 35 times more likely to die than she was in the first trimester.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. (05-22-2013) – Ignoring the growing body of evidence detailing abortion’s harms to women, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Arizona’s prohibition of abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, despite the fact that the risks to maternal health dramatically increase with such later-term abortion procedures. The troubling ruling involved a unique piece of model legislation from Americans United for Life that limits abortion later in pregnancy because of the health risks of abortion for women, as well as the pain inflicted on the unborn infant during the abortion.
“Once again, we see unelected judges ignoring the troubling medical evidence about the impact of late-term abortions on women,” observed Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest. “Instead, such judges continue to act as a self-appointed and unelected ‘Abortion Control Board’ and insist on allowing unregulated, unmonitored and dangerous later-term procedures.”
In the faulty ruling, the Ninth Circuit three-judge panel claimed that no state can prohibit abortion before viability (around 23 to 24 weeks), regardless of whether later-term abortion substantially increases the mother’s risk of death. Most of the 195 nations in the world limit abortion between 12 and 20 weeks, in part because of the dangers of such later-term procedures. Only the United States, North Korea, China and Canada allow abortions through all 9 months of pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever (including sex-selection), and sometimes with taxpayer subsidies.
Dr. Yoest commented: “Two weeks ago, a jury of Americans in Philadelphia expressed their horror at late-term abortions; today, three judges said that late-term abortions must continue despite the deliberative action of the Arizona legislature, the elected representatives of the people of the state. This is an extreme disservice to the women of Arizona.”
“Substantial medical data—utilized even by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute—demonstrates that a woman seeking an abortion in Arizona at 20 weeks is 35 times more likely to die from abortion than she was in the first trimester. At 21 weeks or more, she is 91 times more likely to die from abortion than she was in the first trimester. But these judges incorrectly decided that the ‘abortion right’ is so enshrined in Supreme Court precedent that states cannot even enact restrictions aimed at protecting maternal health. The message is clear: abortion is more important than protecting women’s lives.”
In a concurring opinion, Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld indicated that his hands are tied by the “viability rule,” but noted that it is an “odd rule” because viability changes as medicine improves—meaning that there is no threshold rule for states to follow that can withstand the test of time.
The law was based in substantial part on AUL’s “Women’s Health Defense Act,” and AUL’s Senior Counsel Clarke Forsythe testified in the legislature on behalf of the bill. AUL expects the state of Arizona to request that the U.S. Supreme Court review the case. The 20-week prohibitions of abortion in several other states remain in effect.
For more information on AUL’s cutting-edge model legislation found in Defending Life, click here