Arizona Law Granting ‘Personhood’ to Fetuses Was Blocked by Court

Arizona state law granting “personhood” to unborn fetuses was temporarily blocked from taking effect on Monday by the US District Court Judge Douglas Rayes who called the law vague and depriving plaintiffs of their due process rights.

The law that Arizona passed in 2021 granted the unborn all rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons at the point of conception, barring at the same time women from getting an abortion based on the fetus’ sex, race, or genetic abnormality.

Immediately challenged by opponents, the law was effectively halted from taking effect by the US District Court that issued a partial preliminary injunction on the law in September.

According to Judge Rayes’ ruling, defendants of the law failed to prove that the policy would not cause injury considering the fact that its impact on abortion access was unclear, especially compared to other, less strict state laws.

The federal judge also stressed that labeling the unborn fetus a person may constitute a homicide if they were aborted, meaning any imprecision would have potentially sweeping and severe consequences.

He also noted that the law’s application is so unclear that ordinary people cannot figure out in advance how to comply with it, which makes it unconstitutionally vague.

Judge Rayes’ ruling was hailed as a victory on Monday night by abortion-rights activists who have worked in opposition to the law warning that under such laws, women have been jailed for miscarriages and stillbirths, forced to undergo court-ordered Caesarean sections, and confined to institutions

The National Council of Jewish Women in Arizona’s president Civia Tamarkin stressed that personhood laws are allowing state surveillance and regulation of women’s conduct and have broad potential for criminalizing pregnant women.

She underscored their determination to fight the oppressive and hypocritical law that would grant constitutional rights to a developing fetus by denying them to the person carrying it.

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