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9/24/2009 4:22:00 PM
Arguments set on 24-hour waiting period on abortions

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- A federal judge has refused to let anti-abortion groups participate in next week's hearing over the legality of a new state law requiring a waiting period before women can terminate a pregnancy.

In a ruling made public Wednesday, Judge David Campbell said accommodating the request to participate at this point "is not feasible.'

He said attorneys for both challengers of the law and the Attorney General's Office, which is defending it, have to file their own papers by the end of this week. And Campbell pointed out he is set to hear arguments on the request for an injunction on Tuesday.

But that doesn't mean the views of the would-be intervenors won't be considered: Campbell agreed to let them file a single "friend of the court' brief, no longer than 12 pages, outlining their arguments of why they think the law should be allowed to take effect as scheduled on Wednesday.

The move is a setback for the groups that, through attorneys for the Center for Arizona Policy, have their own reasons for contending the statute approved earlier this year is constitutional.

CAP President Cathi Herrod said the Attorney General's Office is focused on the technical legal issues. She said the groups, including the Catholic Medical Association and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have an interest in convincing the judge there are legitimate medical reasons for the requirement that women be given certain information prior to getting an abortion and then being forced to wait 24 hours before the procedure can be performed.

Campbell's decision to exclude the groups from participating in Tuesday's legal arguments does not permanently preclude them from having a role in the case.

There will need to be a full-blown trial on the constitutionality of the law no matter whether Campbell decides to let it take effect in the meantime. Campbell said he will consider later the requests of the groups to intervene in any future trial.

In deciding whether to enjoin the state from enforcing the law until the trial, Campbell has to focus on two factors.

One is the likelihood that the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Tucson Women's Clinic, will ultimately be successful in its lawsuit.

But Campbell also has to weigh the hardships each side would face.

Suzanne Novak, attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, is arguing that allowing the state to begin enforcing the waiting period will result in some women delaying an abortion, making it more medically risky, while others will forfeit their constitutional rights to terminate their pregnancy because they will not be able to make two trips to the clinic.

Related Stories:
• Judge blocks state from enforcing new abortion law

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, September 25, 2009
Article comment by: Patrice

I very much hope that not only will an injunction against enforcement be issued, but the law will be overturned. Waiting periods are designed exclusively to make access to abortion more difficult, particularly for women who may have to travel long distances to obtain such services. They disproportionately impact the working poor, for whom it can be very hard to take one day away from work much less two, as well as single and/or lower-income mothers for whom childcare arrangements may be challenging. Waiting periods are purely hurdles and red tape to abortion, and anti-choicers love to put such hurdles in place in lieu of banning abortion outright. "Legitimate medical reasons" to be forcefed a bunch of politician- and lobbyist-scripted crap, then forced to chew on it for 24 hours? Please. How insulting. And how transparent.

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