Attorney General Bonta: Arizona’s Abortion “Reason Ban” is Unconstitutional and Should Remain Blocked
OAKLAND, CA (STL.News) California Attorney General Rob Bonta continued his staunch opposition to the coordinated and unconstitutional attempt to roll back reproductive rights in the United States. Attorney General Bonta led a coalition of state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief supporting a challenge to an Arizona “reason ban” that prohibits abortion when it is sought because of the presence of a fetal abnormality. The coalition argues that dispelling discriminatory views about people with disabilities and providing accurate information about fetal abnormalities can and should happen while preserving women’s reproductive autonomy. The attorneys general urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold a district court order that enjoined Arizona’s “reason ban” before it took effect.
“The decision to terminate a pregnancy before viability is a personal choice and is protected under the law,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Unconstitutional laws like Arizona’s reason ban have the potential to impact millions of Americans, including Californians who choose to visit, work, or go to school in the state. Using the law to take away a constitutional right from people who are already making a tremendously complex choice cannot stand. My office has and will continue to oppose this ban and others like it.”
In April, Arizona passed Senate Bill 1457 (SB 1457). The law bans abortions sought because of a genetic abnormality (also known as a reason ban), and makes it a felony for a provider to perform such an abortion. The law also contained a provision that purported to classify fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs as people starting at the point of conception.
SB 1457 was scheduled to take effect on September 29, 2021, but a district court temporarily blocked the reason ban – a decision that was appealed by the state of Arizona.
In his order blocking the ban, Judge Douglas L. Rayes wrote that under the law, a person who chooses to terminate a pre-viability pregnancy because of a fetal genetic abnormality would either have to “conceal this information from or lie to her doctor, neither of which fosters trust or encourages open dialogue.”
Similarly, in today’s brief, the coalition argues that the reason ban runs counter to standards of care established by medical professionals and ignores the myriad of ways that states may promote interest in fetal life and protect children born with genetic abnormalities.
The attorneys general argue that states have the tools to dispel outdated and harmful views about disabilities while protecting reproductive rights. In the brief, the coalition states that providing medically accurate, unbiased information about fetal abnormalities can help pregnant individuals make informed reproductive choices. Further, providing people living with disabilities with civil rights protections as well as social and medical services, can combat discrimination, reduce bias, and protect individuals with disabilities. The coalition argues that both can be done without infringing on reproductive autonomy.
Today’s brief comes as the country awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — a case involving the constitutionality of Mississippi’s pre-viability abortion ban. A coalition, led by Attorney General Bonta, opposed the law and Mississippi’s attempt to roll back half a century of precedents — established in Roe v. Wade — that protect the right to decide, before viability, whether to carry a pregnancy to term.
Attorney General Bonta has been a vocal opponent of the coordinated attack on reproductive rights in the United States.
Last month, Attorney General Bonta joined a coalition of 20 state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief urging the court to halt certain regulations passed in Indiana that restrict access to abortion, arguing that several provisions of the state’s laws place an undue burden on the ability of individuals to exercise their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability.
In October, Attorney General Bonta took action against Senate Bill 8 — Texas’ unconstitutional abortion ban — by joining an amicus brief in support of challengers of the law and urging the U.S. Supreme Court to restore an injunction barring enforcement of the law.
In September, Attorney General Bonta joined a multistate coalition in filing an amicus brief in Planned Parenthood v. Wilson — a case challenging South Carolina’s unconstitutional abortion ban.
In July, Attorney General Bonta co-led a coalition of state attorneys general in submitting a comment letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) supporting their reversal of the Trump Administration’s 2019 Separate Abortion Billing Rule that violated Section 1303 of the Affordable Care Act.
In filing today’s brief, Attorney General Bonta was joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
A copy of the amicus brief is available here.