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Landmark Late-Term Abortion Limit Appealed to U.S. Supreme Court

Horne v. Isaacson may well be the landmark case that leads the Supreme Court to acknowledge the health risks of abortion for women and girls,” said AUL’s Dr. Charmaine Yoest.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (09-30-13) – In what may prove to be a landmark abortion case, the Attorney General of Arizona and the Maricopa County (Arizona) Attorney on Friday appealed Arizona’s law that limits abortions after five months of pregnancy to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to reverse a disappointing ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that the law violated Roe v. Wade. Attorneys with Americans United for Life (AUL), the legal architects of the pro-life movement, are serving as co-counsel with the Arizona Attorney General, the Maricopa County Attorney’s office and the Alliance Defending Freedom on the appeal that was filed Friday.

“Horne v. Isaacson may well be the case that leads the Supreme Court to examine and acknowledge the risks of abortion to women,” said AUL President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest. “In 1973 in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the Supreme Court put the life and health of the mother front and center in the abortion debate. Detailing the numerous studies and evidence that has developed since the 1973 decisions, the Arizona law protects women from the known harm from abortion, as well as considering the pain abortion inflicts on unborn children.”

A five-month limit on abortion has been enacted by 12 states and passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. The Arizona law is the first of these five-month abortion limits to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton in 1973, the U.S. is one of just 4 nations (of 195 around the globe) to allow abortions for any reason after fetal viability. The U.S. stands with North Korea, China, and Canada allowing abortion through all 9 months, for any reason whatsoever.

Arizona’s defense relies directly on the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, which upheld the federal partial birth abortion ban act. In that case, the Supreme Court expressed concern with late-term abortions and their impact on the unborn child and women’s health.

In enacting the five month limit to abortion, the Arizona legislature relied on medical evidence about the capacity of the unborn child to feel pain at five months and on short-term and long-term risks to the woman from late-term abortions. Medical studies have found that the maternal mortality rate from abortion rises significantly after 12 weeks and increases even more after 20 weeks. As one example, a 2004 peer-reviewed medical study showed that the rate of maternal mortality from abortion rises considerably in the second trimester: 14.7 maternal deaths per 100,000 at 13-15 weeks, 29.5 per 100,000 between 16-20 weeks, and 76.6 per 100,000 after 21 weeks.

To read more about the health risks of abortion for women click here.

To read the appeal (petition for certiorari) filed in the case, click here.