Federal Court Rules Abortionists May Seek Injunction Against Abortion Ban

October 31, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

A federal court ruled that abortionists can challenge the state’s ban on discriminatory abortions.

The Ninth Circuit Court ruled on Monday in Isaacson v. Mayes that abortionists may petition for an injunction against state law prohibiting abortions based on fetal genetic abnormality, dubbed the “Reason Regulations.” Judges Ronald Gould, Andrew Hurwitz, and Roopali Desai agreed in their ruling with the abortionists’ claim that they endured economic harm. The abortionists blamed the abortion ban’s vagueness for moving them to conduct less abortions out of caution.

Specifically, the abortionists claimed that the discriminatory abortion ban violated the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments: the threat of prison jeopardized their liberty interest, and the threats of license revocation, monetary damages, and revenue loss jeopardized their property interest. The circuit court dismissed the state’s claim of interest in regulating medical practice.

“That their services include abortion does not alter the fact that Plaintiffs make money providing these services and have lost money because the Reason Regulations restrict what services they can provide,” stated the ruling.

During the trial, the abortionists revealed that patients with likely or confirmed fetal abnormalities made up a significant part of their business.

The “Reason Regulations” made it a felony to either knowingly solicit or accept money to finance an abortion, or to perform an abortion, based on a fetal genetic abnormality.

The abortionists claimed that their overcompliance with the statute was due to the vagueness of the term “genetic abnormality,” and the statute’s lack of details on determining how much that factor had to play into a patient’s decision to get an abortion as well as the level of knowledge an abortionist would have to have in order to be guilty of violating the ban.

Monday’s ruling reversed an Arizona District Court order issued in February allowing the ban to go into effect. The district court rejected the abortionists’ request for a preliminary injunction, since the Supreme Court had just ruled that no constitutional right to abortion existed in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health ruling last year overturning Roe v. Wade

The federal court remanded the case back to the district court for it to decide, once more, whether the state ban on discriminatory abortion may go into effect. 

A similar ongoing case may nullify the results of Isaacson v. Mayes. In Planned Parenthood Arizona v. Mayes, the Arizona Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in December to determine whether the state’s preemptive, pre-statehood, total abortion ban remains enforceable due to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The state’s total abortion ban was suspended following the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that created a constitutional right to abortion. Last year — prior to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health — the state passed its 15-week abortion ban. 

Planned Parenthood Arizona v. Mayes would decide which of the two laws has authority in the state. 

The state never repealed its total abortion ban. The 15-week ban didn’t preclude the enforcement of any other preceding abortion laws.

Last week, Planned Parenthood Arizona (PPAZ) filed a motion to recuse Arizona Supreme Court Judge William Montgomery for his personal beliefs opposing PPAZ.

Earlier this month, Gov. Katie Hobbs filed an amicus brief to oppose the total abortion ban.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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