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Arizona's Parental Consent and Other New Abortion-Related Laws Now Go into Effect

PHOENIX (Thursday, August 11, 2011) -- Attorney General Tom Horne announced today that the Arizona Court of Appeals has overturned a Maricopa County Superior Court ruling that prevented the enforcement of four state abortion-related statutory provisions signed into law in 2009.

The case in question is Planned Parenthood of Arizona vs. the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists , Attorney General Tom Horne, et al. Writing for a unanimous court, Judge Peter B. Swann held that “the four statutory provisions that regulate the performance of abortions [do not] violate the equal protection or privacy clauses of the Arizona Constitution.” The Court vacated an order issued by the Maricopa County Superior Court in September, 2009, that enjoined enforcement of the challenged provisions, including (1) the requirement that a parent’s consent to a minor’s abortion be notarized; (2) the requirement that a physician provide in-person counseling to a woman at least twenty-four hours before she has the abortion; (3) the requirement that physicians perform surgical abortions; and (4) the provision that allows health professionals to refuse to participate in abortions if they have a moral or religious objection to such procedures.

The Court noted as follows: “We hold that the statutes at issue would withstand federal constitutional scrutiny, and that the Arizona Constitution – to the extent it protects abortion rights at all – offers no greater protection than the federal constitution with respect to the regulations at issue in this case.”

In addition, the Court specifically rejected Planned Parenthood’s argument that the statutory provisions had to withstand “strict scrutiny” and held that the proper standard to apply is the “undue burden” test articulated by the United States Supreme Court in a 1992 case captioned Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

“The Court found that the laws in question do not violate the Arizona Constitution, and likely would stand up to scrutiny under the United States Constitution as well,” Horne said. “I am a strong believer in defending the constitutionality of our laws, and I applaud the work of Solicitor General Dave Cole, Civil Appeals Section Chief Paula Bickett, and others who worked tirelessly to defend these laws.”