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ADF: Ground won, lost against pro-abortion groups in suits challenging Ariz. law protecting women, children

Federal court denies Tucson Women’s Center attempt to stop act protecting women, state court allows Planned Parenthood assault on new state law that fully informs women
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PHOENIX — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys made gains in federal and state court Tuesday against pro-abortion groups seeking to block the enforcement of new legislation passed this year in Arizona to protect pregnant women and their children. The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona issued an order denying the Tucson Women’s Center request for a preliminary injunction to stop an act passed this year to ensure that women have enough time and information before having an abortion. Meanwhile, even though the Arizona Superior Court for Maricopa County granted Planned Parenthood’s preliminary injunction through an order keeping new state laws restricting abortion from taking effect today, ADF attorneys made headway in the first round of litigation.

“The legal system must recognize that everyone deserves full and accurate information before undergoing any medical procedure, especially a potentially dangerous and life-shattering abortion,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven H. Aden. “We are pleased that the federal court acknowledges the importance of a woman being fully informed before making one of the most critical decisions of her life. We are also eager to continue our battle in state court until it understands the necessity to safeguard legislation from attacks by pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood that seek to undermine laws designed to protect women and the children they are carrying.”

In the federal lawsuit, Tucson Women’s Center v. Arizona Medical Board, ADF attorneys secured an order denying the pro-abortion group’s request for a preliminary injunction to prohibit the enforcement of Arizona House Bill 2564, an act passed by state legislature and signed by Gov. Janice Brewer in July to protect women, effective today. The new law amends Arizona abortion law by requiring abortionists to provide women with specific statutorily-prescribed information, requiring them to wait 24 hours after receiving the information before having an abortion, and by making sure that women requesting the procedure consent to the abortion in writing.

In the state suit, Planned Parenthood Arizona v. Goddard, the court granted the abortion provider a preliminary injunction against two new state laws enacted during the 2009 legislative session that provide greater protection to women and girls seeking an abortion. However, despite the order for the preliminary injunction and the judge’s denial of ADF attorney’s motion to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of bill sponsors Sen. Linda Gray and Rep. Nancy Barto, doctors, and numerous organizations--the state court made an unusual move by accepting a friend-of-the-court brief filed by ADF attorneys, granting them status as amicus parties as the suit moves forward. The court also accepted into evidence four affidavits from national and Arizona-based medical experts documenting sub-standard medical practices by Planned Parenthood clinics.

The blocked new laws in the state suit would have prohibited non-physicians from performing surgical abortions, required specific information to be provided to women orally and in person, protected health care workers who object to performing or facilitating abortions, and would have required the notarized parental consent for minors seeking abortions. Also the legislation would have ensured that women seeking abortions would be presented with alternatives to the procedure, receive information about the long-term medical risks of abortion, and learn about the probable gestational age of the preborn child at the time of the requested abortion.
Attorneys with the Center for Arizona Policy, BioEthics Defense Fund, and Life Legal Defense Fund, are serving as co-counsel in the suits.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.