Health & Human Services

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Arizona's Ban on Race-Based Abortions

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging an Arizona law that bans abortions based on a fetus’ race or sex, saying the civil-rights groups that filed the suit lacked legal standing.
October 7, 2013
 

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging an Arizona law that bans abortions based on a fetus’ race or sex, saying the civil-rights groups that filed the suit lacked legal standing.

The 2011 law makes it a felony to perform an abortion if the provider knows it is sought based on the fetus’ sex or race or a woman is being coerced into have an abortion for such reasons.

Arizona is the only state that bans race-based abortions, according to the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion laws. Five other states — Illinois, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Kansas and Oklahoma — ban sex-based abortions.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona filed the lawsuit in May on behalf of the Maricopa County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.

According to court documents, the groups stated that they did not oppose the law because their members wanted to seek abortions based on the race or sex of their fetuses but instead alleged the law stigmatizes minority groups by making the assumption that they would want to.

“Based on nothing more than invidious racial stereotypes about the reasons minority women seek abortion care, the Act intentionally singles out Black and API (Asian and Pacific Islander) women and stigmatizes their abortion decisions,” the lawsuit states.

“The Act is premised on the sponsors’ beliefs that Black and API women are deliberately using abortion to destroy their own communities.”

Justice David Campbell in his ruling Thursday said their argument wasn’t enough to legally show that minority groups would be denied equal treatment under the law.

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