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Victory: Court Rejects Planned Parenthood Attack on Conscience and Women's Health Information

In a decisive defeat for the abortion industry, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals rejected Planned Parenthood’s arguments that the Arizona Constitution provided broader abortion rights than the federal constitution.

Aug. 12, 2011 - PRLog -- Phoenix, Arizona – Yesterday, in a decisive defeat for the abortion industry with far-reaching implications, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals rejected Planned Parenthood’s arguments that the Arizona Constitution provided broader abortion rights than the federal constitution.  The appellate court upheld the constitutionality of the 2009 Arizona Abortion Consent Act, which required life-affirming common sense protections such as information on abortion risks and alternatives, parental consent for minors, and the conscience rights of healthcare professionals.  

Bioethics Defense Fund president and general counsel Nikolas Nikas, along with the Life Legal Defense Foundation, was co-counsel on the case, assisting the Arizona Attorney General, the Arizona Speaker of the House, the Center for Arizona Policy and the Alliance Defense Fund.   The groups represented several medical organizations that sought to intervene in the case including the Catholic Medical Association and Ave Maria Pharmacy.

Prior to the law’s passage and challenge, BDF had provided legal consultation to the Center for Arizona Policy and reviewed the language of the Act when it was in bill form.  Cathi Herrod, President of the Center for Arizona Policy, noted that “Nikas has worked with her and CAP for 15 years to get informed consent legislation enacted.”

Specifically the appellate court upheld:

•   Healthcare professional’s  right to conscientiously object to being forced to participate in abortion
(Court rejected PP’s claim that conscience protections “violate the peace and safety of the state.”);

•   Notarized parental consent for minors seeking abortion (Court rejected PP’s claim that the requirement would undermine confidentiality of minors);

•   Physician-only requirement for surgical and drug-induced abortion (Court rejected PP’s attempt to enable nurse practitioners to use drugs to induce abortion without physician oversight); and

•   In-person informed consent for abortion by physician  (Court rejected PP attempt to enable impersonal telephonic abortion consultations).

The 44-page appellate court decision reversed a lower trial court decision that had enjoined the Act:

“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. Because we hold that the statutes in question are constitutional, we reverse the decision of the trial court, vacate the injunction and remand.”

Nikas stated, “This decision is cogent and well-reasoned.  It is a huge blow to the ill-conceived attempt of Planned Parenthood to misconstrue the Arizona Constitution to undermine the will of the people as expressed by the Legislature.  Arizona joins courts all over the nation, including the US Supreme Court, in upholding reasonable and common sense laws designed to promote a state’s legitimate interests in protecting women’s health and safety.  The days when the abortion industry could undermine the will of the people with impunity are fast drawing to an end.”

Nikas also emphasized the importance of the decision’s affirmance of healthcare rights of conscience, stating “National polls have consistently shown that conscientious physicians and nurses will opt to leave the medical profession if they are coerced into providing elective abortions against their medical judgment and religious and/or moral beliefs. With 1 in every 6 American patients choosing Catholic healthcare, Planned Parenthood’s attempt to strip conscience rights would result in less accessibility to quality healthcare with the highest standards of care.”

BDF senior counsel Dorinda Bordlee said “Women’s Right to Know laws like the one upheld in Arizona give women the dignity of full information about abortion health risks, fetal development photos that show the beauty of the unborn child, and resources offered by public and private agencies willing to help a woman with prenatal care, childbirth and newborn care.  By opposing informed consent, Planned Parenthood reveals itself as an abortion industry organization, who is not at all interested in the interests and health of women.”

The full Arizona Court of Appeals decision can be reviewed at

BDF encourages state legislators and policy leaders to contact our legislative department for complementary legal support and model legislation, including BDF’s groundbreaking "Signs of Hope" legislation, touted by National Review Online as a “Digital New Feminist Revolution.”.  For more info, go to http://www.bdfund.org/SignsofHope

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Bioethics Defense Fund is a public-interest legal organization whose mission is to defend human life through strategic legislation, litigation, and public education on issues involving abortion, human embryo experimentation, and euthanasia.

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Source:Nikolas T. Nikas, Bioethics Defense Fund
Location:United States
Industry:Legal, Religion, Health
Tags:BDF, Bioethics Defense Fund, Planned Parenthood, Abortion, Court, Conscience, Healthcare, Prolife, Pro-life
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