A federal judge in Phoenix blocked a 2021 state "personhood" law that gave unborn children all legal rights and put abortion providers at risk of prosecution.
U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes ruled that the groups that sued to block the law are right — it's "anyone's guess" what criminal laws abortion providers may be breaking if they perform otherwise-legal abortions.
Rayes wrote, "That's the problem." Plaintiffs shouldn't have to guess whether their behaviour is legal when the entire Arizona code is at stake.
Rayes agreed that the law is too vague.
Missouri, Kansas, Georgia, and Alabama have similar "personhood" laws.
Uncertain if Arizona abortions will resume after the Supreme Court ruled last month that women have no constitutional right to abortion. Pre-1901 abortion bans and other laws created too much risk for abortion providers.
In Pima County, where the 1901 law is blocked, they may be legal, but Attorney General Mark Brnovich plans to ask a court to lift the order and allow enforcement.
Rayes had refused to block the personhood law last year, but abortion rights groups renew their request after Roe v. Wade was struck down.
They argued the law was too vague and that providers feared being charged with child abuse, assault, or other crimes. Civil and regulatory action are concerns.
The attorney general's office told the judge the personhood law created no new criminal laws, but admitted in court filings prosecutors and courts may disagree.