An Arizona law that would criminalize abortion based on genetic conditions was partially blocked by a judge a month ago, and citizens are waiting to see what will happen next.
Sen. Martin Quezada, D, LDxx, voted no to SB 1457.
“I believe that this bill is attempting, unsuccessfully so far, to upend decades of precedent that was first established under Roe v. Wade. This won’t change the need for abortions at all. It’ll simply make the methodology much cruder and barbaric,” Quezada said.
U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes blocked a vital aspect of SB 1457 that allows felony charges to be made against doctors for inducing an abortion based on a genetic abnormality. He said that the provision is “very vague” and possibly unconstitutional.
However, according to NBC News, the judge declined to grant a preliminary injunction for another aspect of the legislation requiring fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs to be referred to as “people” from the point of conception.
The bill was initially signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey in April.
This law is similar to the recently passed Texas Abortion Law, SB 8, that allows private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps someone get an abortion.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Legislature on behalf of the Arizona Medical Association and an Arizona doctor.
“Harmful bans like SB 1457 stigmatize abortion and drive a wedge between patients and their doctors. This law invades standard prenatal care when the last thing patients need is the government making complex medical and personal decisions for them,” said Marcella Taracena, a communications director at the ACLU Arizona. “We’ll continue fighting this cruel policy to ensure that no one is forced to carry a pregnancy or become a parent against their will in Arizona or anywhere else in the country.”
Technology is advancing prenatal screenings and diagnostic tests to detect genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome. This is generally detected in the second trimester of pregnancy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate around 6,000 babies are born each year in the U.S. with the genetic condition Down syndrome. According to The Atlantic, the number of children born with Down syndrome has fallen drastically since universal screening was introduced.
Some people believe having a child who will need constant medical attention and not live what is considered typical life is cruel.
According to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a woman may choose abortion due to a genetic abnormality because of the emotional and financial cost. Also, it is statistically shown that people of color, LGBTQ+ people, people with low incomes, and people living in rural areas face disparities in health care access. These situations influence their decision to get an abortion involving genetic conditions.
On the contrary, some believe that it is inhumane to have an abortion based on a genetic condition.
Sen. Paul Boyer, R, LDXX, voted yes to SB 1457.
“No civilized society supports eugenics. Every child deserves a shot at life regardless of their unique circumstances. Further, no society will last long when it picks and chooses who gets to live and who doesn’t,” he said.
Many pro-life advocates believe that a baby born with disabilities related to genetics should not be shunned away by society. They argue that people should do more to make the healthcare system more easily prioritized for those with disabilities.
Ron Johnson, the executive director for the Arizona Catholic Conference, also stated that SB 1457 is an “excellent piece” of legislation. He said it will help mothers and their unborn babies while saving lives.
Less than one percent of abortions performed in Arizona each year are due to medical conditions such as cardiac or chromosome abnormalities, according to the 2018 Arizona Abortion Report.
“Even though a judge has blocked certain parts of the law from taking effect, it’s not a complete victory for us, and Arizona is still one of the states where it’s hardest to get an abortion. This law is yet another way for politicians to impose their own judgment, create more barriers, and punish people who have and provide abortions,” said Eloisa Lopez, an executive director for Pro-Choice Arizona.