In the Courts

Arizona Federal Judge Denies Unborn Children Legal ‘Personhood’

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A federal judge in Arizona blocked a 2021 state law that protects unborn children from abortion by granting them “personhood” on Monday.

U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes deemed that Arizona’s personhood law that classifies “fetuses, embryos and fertilized eggs as ‘people’ beginning at the moment of conception” was too vague to be enforced as state law.

Rayes stated that it is “anyone’s guess” how prosecutors might apply the law against individuals. Under the “personhood” law, it remains unclear if even a legal abortion would be considered a crime.

“When the punitive and regulatory weight of the entire Arizona code is involved, Plaintiffs should not have to guess at whether their conduct is on the right or the wrong side of the law,” Rayes said.

The majority of abortion clinics in Arizona stopped providing the procedures following the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade last month. Arizona’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich is determined to outlaw abortion in the state.

“Our office has concluded the Legislature has made its intentions clear with regards to abortion laws,” Brmovich announced on Twitter. “ARS 13-3603 is back in effect and will not be repealed.”

A spokesperson for the Arizona attorney general’s office told the AP that Rayes’ ruling “was based on an interpretation of Arizona law that our office did not agree with, and we are carefully considering our next steps.”

At least three more states have comparable “personhood” laws in effect, including Missouri, Georgia and Alabama.

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