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ADF Seeks to Protect Arizona Babies from Eugenic Practices

Abortion advocates in Arizona are attacking a law that protects unborn children with genetic anomalies like Down syndrome.
Alliance Defending Freedom
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Abortion advocates in Arizona are attacking a law that protects unborn children with genetic anomalies like Down syndrome

All human lives are precious and deserve protection—especially the most vulnerable among us. And the unborn are among the most vulnerable of all. But the abortion industry continues to target unborn children, including those with genetic anomalies like Down syndrome.

Now, two abortionists and three organizations are seeking to strike down an Arizona law that protects unborn babies from discrimination because of their genetic makeup. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are representing two Arizona lawmakers who want to protect these vulnerable lives.

Who is ADF representing in this case?

When abortion activists originally filed a lawsuit in 2021, Mark Brnovich was the attorney general of Arizona. Brnovich was committed to protecting unborn children throughout his tenure. But in January 2023, Kris Mayes was sworn in as Brnovich’s successor, and she has expressly said that she will not defend and enforce the state’s pro-life laws.

Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma lead the two chambers of the Arizona legislature. As legislative leaders, they have a unique interest in defending Arizona laws and protecting unborn children, particularly those with Down syndrome and other genetic anomalies. ADF is representing Petersen and Toma in the case because Mayes does not represent their interests in defending the pro-life law.

Isaacson v. Mayes

Arizona law has protected unborn children from discrimination for over a decade. Since 2011, no person in Arizona has been allowed to perform an abortion “knowing that the abortion is sought based on the sex or race of the child or the race of a parent of that child.”

In 2021, Arizona expanded these protections by prohibiting anyone from performing an abortion solely because the unborn child is believed to have a genetic anomaly, such as Down syndrome.

The added protection ensured that unborn babies would be protected from discrimination based on their genetic makeup. Abortion activists filed a lawsuit in August 2021 seeking to strike down the law protecting vulnerable children. At the time the lawsuit was filed, Brnovich was still serving as attorney general.

In January 2023, Mayes was sworn into office. She has publicly called the law protecting unborn children with genetic anomalies like Down syndrome from discrimination “unconstitutional,” and she has said she will not prosecute doctors and other medical professionals for performing unlawful abortions. Mayes promised to use her authority to stop county attorneys from prosecuting abortionists even if they expressly violate Arizona law.

An Arizona law authorizes its senate president and house majority leader to intervene in cases challenging the constitutionality of a state law. Since Mayes has signaled that she does not plan to represent Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma’s view that the pro-life law is constitutional, ADF attorneys filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the two leaders in February 2023. As elected officials, they have a unique interest in protecting Arizona’s laws. In March 2023, a federal district court issued an order allowing the two lawmakers to intervene, and that was confirmed by the court of appeals on May 30, 2023.

What’s at stake?

If abortion activists challenging Arizona’s law have their way, vulnerable children with genetic anomalies will no longer be protected. Abortionists will be able to end the lives of unborn babies simply because they have been diagnosed with conditions like Down syndrome.

Petersen and Toma want to ensure unborn children are not discriminated against because of their genetic makeup. Unborn babies have a right to life, and the court must not allow them to be targeted for death because of genetic anomalies.

Case timeline

  • August 2021: Two abortionists and three organizations filed a lawsuit seeking to strike down an Arizona law that protects unborn babies from being targeted for death because of Down syndrome or other genetic anomalies.
  • January 2023: Kris Mayes was sworn in as the Arizona attorney general. She vowed not to defend and enforce the pro-life law.
  • February 2023: ADF attorneys filed a motion to intervene on behalf of Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma. They are seeking to defend the law protecting unborn children from discrimination.
  • March 2023: A federal district court issued an order allowing Petersen and Toma to intervene in the lawsuit to defend Arizona's law.
  • May 2023: A federal court of appeals issued an order allowing Petersen and Toma to defend Arizona’s law on appeal.
  • October 2023: A panel of judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the abortion activists have standing, meaning the case will move forward. But the law remains in effect.

The bottom line

Every life is valuable and worthy of protection. Arizona’s law affirms that life is a human right and that unborn babies cannot be targeted by the abortion industry because of their genetic makeup.

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Alliance Defending Freedom
Alliance Defending Freedom

ADF team members contributed to the writing and publication of this article.