Skip to main content

Reproductive rights advocates won a small victory Monday. Without explanation, which is its standard approach, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Arizona's effort to reinstate a law that prohibited most abortions 20 weeks after a woman's last menstrual period:
The case concerned an Arizona law, enacted in 2012, that prohibits abortions, except in medical emergencies, when the gestational age of the fetus is more than 20 weeks. The law’s definition of medical emergency is narrow, encompassing conditions requiring immediate abortion to avert a pregnant woman’s death or a “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

The law’s sponsors claimed that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, a contention that has been disputed by major medical groups.

A panel of three judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled eight months ago that the law was unconstitutional.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who pushed for the law in 2012, seems a bit confused about constitutionality. She claimed through spokesman Andrew Wilder that the Court's decision not to take up the case "is wrong, and is a clear infringement on the authority of states to implement critical life-affirming laws."

In fact, "viability" of the fetus outside the womb has long been the Supreme Court's standard, and the Ninth Circuit ruled Arizona "may not deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at any point prior to viability," and labeled the law "unconstitutional under an unbroken stream of Supreme Court authority, beginning with Roe and ending with Gonzalez [v. Carhart]." In March, the Ninth Circuit also struck down Idaho's 20-week ban on abortions. Eight other states still have such laws on the books, all of them held up in the courts.

Please read more about the Court's decision below the fold:

The Arizona law had been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights. Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the center, said:

“The Supreme Court soundly declined to review the Ninth Circuit’s sound decision that Arizona’s abortion ban is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing precedent. This ensures that no Arizona women’s lives or health are harmed by this callous and unconstitutional law. But women should not be forced to run to court, year after year, in state after state, to protect their constitutional rights and access to critical health care. Our fundamental rights are not up for debate and cannot be legislated away by politicians who are hell bent on restricting access to the full range of reproductive health care.”
Arizona's law was only one of 205 forced-birther laws passed by the states in the past three years. More laws were passed during that period, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute, than in the decade of 2001-2010 when 189 such laws were enacted.

Politicians from coast to coast have aggressively moved to impose laws undermining or removing women's right to make their own decisions about pregnancy together with their doctors. Getting a safe, legal abortion has been made more difficult depending on where a woman lives. Various laws—from medically unnecessary clinic requirements to bans on telemedicine for abortions—have been tested by advocates in one state and then introduced in others as part of a concerted nationwide effort.

In November, Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Tammy Baldwin and Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Reps. Judy Chu, Lois Frankel and Marcia Fudge,introduced the Women's Health Protection Act. The bill would reaffirm Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey by blocking states from enacting measures like the 20-week gestation limit as well as fetal heartbeat bills, fetal pain legislation, unnecessary clinic rules and a plethora of other efforts to make abortions ever tougher to obtain. The bill would mandate that state laws touted as protecting women’s health actually do so, an assertion which few, if any, of the anti-abortion measures can legitimately make.

The bill will obviously not clear the House of Representatives now in the control of extremist Republicans. But it's an example of the kind of legislation across a whole range of issues that Democrats should be putting forth to let Americans know what they would do if they actually did have a working majority in both houses of Congress.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:07 AM PST.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks, Good News, and Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  What Jan Brewer seems to know about governance (15+ / 0-)

    appears to be roughly the size of a gnat's arse.  The sooner she is out of office (and the bleary public eye) the better.

    Good to know that SCOTUS can do something fairly intelligent.  I was beginning to have my doubts, and waiting for this ruling had me a bit nervous.

    We cannot call ourselves a civilised society if we refuse to protect the weakest among us.

    by The Marti on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:17:43 AM PST

    •  Now, now (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Marti

      She forced Medicaid expansion through against some tough opposition in the AZ legislature.

      OK, that's one thing. I got nothing else.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 02:24:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The question then becomes, "Why did she do it?" (0+ / 0-)

        Followed by, "What's in it for her?"

        If she did ONE decent thing in her tenure, it must've been an accident.

        But thanks for trying!  ;-)

        We cannot call ourselves a civilised society if we refuse to protect the weakest among us.

        by The Marti on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 07:46:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Is this a sign that this Court isn't inclined to (10+ / 0-)

    mess with Roe? I've been waiting for one of these cases to get to SCOTUS and reverse Roe. It appears that's not the case.

  •  deep sigh of relief (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, TofG, bythesea

    not that I expect the GOP to learn anything from this!

  •  So we've still got a circuit split, right? (7+ / 0-)

    I don't blame SCOTUS for not wanting to revisit Roe v. Wade all over again, but I feel strongly that circuit splits need to be resolved as quickly as possible, this country is supposed to have one, combined and comprehensible constitutional system.

  •  A little misleading (5+ / 0-)

    The SCOTUS didn't exactly "reject" the ban...they merely declined to hear the case.

    You really can't read much into that, except possibly that the court is simply not prepared at this time to revisit the abortion issue.

    Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

    by Pi Li on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:46:11 AM PST

    •  anyone citing the 9th circuit opinion (6+ / 0-)

      gets to throw a cert. denied in the parenthetical.  Not bad. Makes other circuits more likely to follow the 9th circuit's ruling than less.  Besides, the net result is to leave intact an injunction striking down the statute, so as of today, the Arizona law is deader than it was yesterday.

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 12:28:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  All true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nova Land

        Just commenting that the headline..."Supreme Court rejects Arizona's 20-week abortion band" could leave the casual reader with the impression that the court heard the arguments and rejected the law on its merits...which it didn't.

        You're quite right that the net effect is that the lower courts ruling stands and the statue is stuck down. But there's a world of difference in terms of precedent between that and the court hearing arguments on the case then rejecting the law and simply declining to hear arguments (based on your comment I know you know all this). Because eventually this court will take up abortion again, and when it does it will be a BFD.

        Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

        by Pi Li on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 12:50:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  my guess is MB is mostly concerned with (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tytalus, Nova Land

          outcomes, and the only exaggeration is the law had been previously rejected.  The challenge to the intermediate ruling was the last gasp, however, and the appeal was rejected.  Nevertheless, not all cert's denied are created equal - injunctive relief striking down a highly contentious state law is not the same thing as refusing to hear an argument about a class certification decision.  

          If the four horsemen thought they had the votes to uphold it, they'd have voted to grant.  It's a half-precedent in my opinion, just don't cite it cert denied sub nom.  That's incorrect.

          Court's taking up abortion this week, by the way, oral argument in McCullen v. Coakley, 35 foot protester exclusion zone.  

          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

          by Loge on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 01:18:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hmmmmm (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Nova Land

            I disagree that the difference between denying cert and deciding the case on the merits is just a detail and only the outcome matters. And the fact is, the statement that the SCOTUS "rejected" the appeal is inaccurate (you won't see any headline in the legal press, or the MSM characterising the case this way). I do agree that from MB's POV, and what most people here are concerned with is the final outcome. But there's something to be said for completeness and accuracy. This is not a knock on MB, for the most part I find his legal diaries (particularly on Zimmerman) here quite good. But there it is.

            And McCullen really isn't an abortion case, except incidentally. It's really First Amendment case.

            Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

            by Pi Li on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 02:40:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  it's all that matters for non-lawyers, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Pi Li, Nova Land

              and in all likelihood properly so.  People hire lawyers so as not to have to worry about procedural stuff.  

              Besides, abortion decisions are probably better viewed as political actions by Justices than legal ones.  

              I I think whether McCullen is a first amendment case or an abortion case depends on how you think it should come out.  If you conceptualize it as a law to protect abortion access, maybe it's then a valid time, place, and manner restriction.  If it's first and foremost and abridgment of the right to protest, then does it much matter which 35 foot perimeter is crossed?  I actually think it's both - a well intentioned law, gone too far.  In theory, a buffer is constitutional, but this one only applies to clinics providing abortion services and not medical offices more broadly, and specifically allows clinic employees or agents to do any sort of advocacy within the barrier -- that crosses it over into viewpoint restraint, and it's not narrowly tailored enough for that (it doesn't prevent violence, really, and it does burden non-violent protesters.  Constitutional under a lower tier of scrutiny for a non-content based restriction that would prevail if technically neutral as to which side can't protest).  

              Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

              by Loge on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 02:53:29 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Perhaps (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Nova Land
                it's all that matters for non-lawyers and in all likelihood properly so.  People hire lawyers so as not to have to worry about procedural stuff.  
                But there's a reason even the MSM isn't characterising the story as the SCOTUS "rejecting" AZ's law, because that's just not accurate. In any event, I don't think we're really disagreeing on this point just coming at it from a different angle.

                I think your summary of the issues in McCullen is about right, except that at the end of the day abortion "rights" in terms of governmental restrictions aren't in jeopardy, and that's why I wouldn't characterise it as an abortion case.  And the fall out from this decision will have an impact on future First Amendment cases involving protests, but really won't impact abortion cases at all.

                I actually think it's both - a well intentioned law, gone too far.  In theory, a buffer is constitutional, but this one only applies to clinics providing abortion services and not medical offices more broadly, and specifically allows clinic employees or agents to do any sort of advocacy within the barrier -- that crosses it over into viewpoint restraint, and it's not narrowly tailored enough for that
                Yes.

                Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

                by Pi Li on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 03:13:05 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  If states can't put up any protections (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Nova Land, Tonedevil

                  for women, it could make legal abortion a dead letter, in light of mob harassment.  That said, these laws have to be content or viewpoint neutral.  The Court already made a blueprint from which Mass. deviated, giving this reactionary Court a second bite at the apple.  Of course, many states don't have laws protecting patients from harassment, but anti-abortion terrorism is a real thing, and there is no equivalent history of violence for, say, anti circumcision or anti vaccine kooks who might be out leafleting.  Anyway, as here, the four most conservative justices will vote to overturn in order to make abortion more difficult, as they effectively voted not to make abortion more difficult in Arizona.  Whether the sensible Justices go along because of application of intermediate or strict scrutiny, is another question.

                  Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                  by Loge on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 06:00:23 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Original headline said: (7+ / 0-)

      Supreme Court rejects Arizona's appeal of Ninth Circuit's nixing of state's 20-week abortion ban

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 12:58:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  misleading? did you read the first sentence? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Loge, tytalus
      Reproductive rights advocates won a small victory Monday. Without explanation, which is its standard approach, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Arizona's effort to reinstate a law that prohibited most abortions 20 weeks after a woman's last menstrual period.
      Or the rest of the diary, which makes it crystal clear that the Supremes refused to hear the case?

      There is nothing in this diary that conveys the idea that the court issued an opinion on the merits.

      Moreover, the layperson word "rejects" means to "refuse to hear."

  •  What is the standard for viability? (0+ / 0-)

    I thought the states were given some latitude in deciding viability on their own, although 20 weeks seems ridiculous.

    •  There's some information here (4+ / 0-)

      Short answer, yes, they have some latitude.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      The United States Supreme Court stated in Roe v. Wade (1973) that viability (i.e., the "interim point at which the fetus becomes ... potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid"[6]) "is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks."[6] The 28-week definition became part of the "trimester framework" marking the point at which the "compelling state interest" (under the doctrine of strict scrutiny) in preserving potential life became possibly controlling, permitting states to freely regulate and even ban abortion after the 28th week.[6] The subsequent Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) modified the "trimester framework," permitting the states to regulate abortion in ways not posing an "undue burden" on the right of the mother to an abortion at any point before viability; on account of technological developments between 1973 and 1992, viability itself was legally dissociated from the hard line of 28 weeks, leaving the point at which "undue burdens" were permissible variable depending on the technology of the time and the judgment of the state legislatures.

      Forty-one states now have laws restricting post-viability abortions. Some allow doctors to decide for themselves if the fetus is viable. Some require doctors to perform tests to prove a fetus is pre-viable and require multiple doctors to certify the findings. Eleven states have banned the procedure called intact dilation and extraction (IDE)--also known as partial-birth abortion—in the belief that this procedure is used mainly post-viability.[7]

      Wiki cites the lower limit is 23-24 weeks or more. That may be why laws like in AZ went with a different idea of 'fetal pain,' for which they lack evidential support.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      Guns don't kill people. People kill guns. -- this message brought to you by the Night Vale chapter of the N.R.A.

      by tytalus on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 12:02:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So, there might be an argument... (0+ / 0-)

        ...to determining the viability of the fetus by ultrasound or whatever before abortion? I don't like the sound of that at all.

        By this week (28), your baby weighs 2 1/4 pounds (about the size of a large eggplant) and measures 14.8 inches from the top of her head to her heels. She can blink her eyes, which now sport lashes. With her eyesight developing, she may be able to see the light that filters in through your womb. She's also developing billions of neurons in her brain and adding more body fat in preparation for life in the outside world.
        src=http://www.babycenter.com/...

        What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

        by TerryDarc on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 12:28:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  A Critical Life-Affirming Law Would Be Reinstating (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, JerryNA, Wee Mama, Mimikatz

    the Republican Earp brothers' 1880's ban on carrying guns within town limits in Arizona.

    There were more casualties at the recent Gabby Giffords shooting than there were at the OK Corral.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:59:47 AM PST

    •  It wasn't the Earp brothers' ban. That ban... (0+ / 0-)

      ...was in the Tombstone city charter. The town was officially founded in March 1879. The first Earp didn't arrive until December.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 01:10:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  AZ legislators go back to the drawing board (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TerryDarc

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 12:03:51 PM PST

    •  That! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annieli, Meteor Blades

      Is awful. My goodness, that is really, really...awful.

      What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

      by TerryDarc on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 12:29:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you ACLU and Cen for Repro rights--I wish (0+ / 0-)

    I had money to contribute. I will when I can.

  •  SC has another Abortion case Wed..... (0+ / 0-)

    High court case: Abortion clinic protest-free zone http://www.usatoday.com/... … #wiunion #wipolitics

    High court case: Abortion clinic protest-free zone
    AP 12:02 a.m. EST January 12, 2014

    Supreme Court to hear arguments about protest-free buffer zone around abortion clinics.

    BOSTON (AP) — Eleanor McCullen clutches a baby's hat knit in pink and blue as she patrols a yellow semicircle painted on the sidewalk outside a Planned Parenthood health clinic on a frigid December morning with snow in the forecast.

    The painted line marks 35 feet from the clinic's entrance and that's where the 77-year-old McCullen and all other abortion protesters and supporters must stay under a Massachusetts law that is being challenged at the U.S. Supreme Court as an unconstitutional infringement on free speech. Arguments are set for Wednesday.

    Outside the line, McCullen and others are free to approach anyone with any message they wish. They risk arrest if they get closer to the door........

  •  Political Restrictions on Abortion (0+ / 0-)

    As far as I can discern, since the passage of and signing by Pres. G. W. Bush, the "Partial Abortion Law" banning dilation and extraction abortion, none of the anti-abortion laws make any sense medically.  In the current issue of Pro Publica, a Jan. 7, 2014 article entitled "Amid Abortion Debate, the Pursuit of Science, by Nina Martin, this is borne out by several studies conducted by Tracy Weitz in California.  www.propublica.org

    Legislators and judges alike, either don't understand or disregard science in favor of dogma.  The impact falls heaviest on poor and geographically isolated women.

    Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

    by arlene on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 04:32:15 PM PST

  •  I can't think of anything worse (0+ / 0-)

    than a woman murdering her own child. Women have been saying for years that when they are in charge they will end all wars & murders & here the first opportunity they have,they go & murder 53,000,000 that's FIFTY THREE MILLION babies for crap sake. I don't believe in the death sentence. Why would I support a death sentence for guiltless,defenseless babies. The only people who should be aborted are the ones who do this or support it. No time limits.

  •  ABORTION IS MURDER ANYWAY YOU LOOK AT IT. (0+ / 0-)

    That's all

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site