The Arizona affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a motion Saturday that seeks to block the state’s “personhood” law which, they argue, could make all abortions illegal in the state.
The abortion rights groups filed an emergency motion one day after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, returning decisions about abortion to the states.
The U.S. Supreme Court appears very likely to uphold Missouri’s 15-week abortion ban, which will gut a significant portion of Roe v. Wade, leaving much of abortion regulation to the individual states. Roe v. Wade prohibited the states from restricting abortion before fetal viability, around 23 weeks. If the Supreme Court rules for Mississippi in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it is expected that 26 states will then start restricting abortion as early as 15 weeks, including Arizona, which already has an old law on the books.
When Arizona was a territory, a law was passed in 1901 banning abortion. A.R.S. 13-3603 punishes the facilitation of an abortion with two to five years in prison. A woman who attempts to obtain one, whether successful or not, unless necessary to save her life, was penalized by one to five years in prison. That law was repealed this year by the Arizona Legislature.
According to a bill passed Thursday by the Tennessee General Assembly, the unborn are people at the moment of conception. This was accomplished through changes to civil law, by extending wrongful death liability for the unborn all the way to conception. In effect, this legislation confers personhood the moment an egg is fertilized.
The legal change in the civil definition of personhood wasn’t presented in the caption text. It was mentioned once in a single sentence under the bill’s summary. Additionally, the name given to the bill by the sponsors – the “Prenatal Life and Liberty Act” – wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the bill’s language, caption text, or summary.