U.S. judge clears way for Ariz. abortion law to take effect
USA Today: A federal judge today declared Arizona’s ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy is constitutional, clearing the way for it to take effect Thursday, the Associated Press reports.
U.S. District Judge James Teilborg said the statute does not prohibit women from deciding to end their pregnancies, noting that they would need to decide earlier. He also said the state had provided “substantial and well-documented” evidence that a fetus has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion by at least 20 weeks. Abortions are allowed in medical emergencies.
Currently, the state bans abortions after the “viability” of a fetus to survive outside the womb, which is generally about 24 weeks.
Our Gannett colleagues at The Arizona Republic point out that the new law will actually ban abortions at 18 weeks because it is based on the “gestational age” of the fetus, which is defined as beginning the first day of a woman’s last menstruation. Generally, doctors perform ultrasounds around 18 weeks to detect for any abnormalities.
The paper writes that “more babies with fatal fetal defects are expected to be carried to term, even though they will die within minutes, hours or days. But more will also be done to help their families get through the trauma of losing a child.” Eight other states also ban abortions after 20 weeks, but only Arizona pushes it back to 18 weeks of pregnancy.
Women in Arizona terminate about 100 pregnancies a year after 20 weeks, records show. It’s not clear how many are related to a problem with the pregnancy, the paper adds.
At 20 weeks, a baby weighs about 10 1/2 ounces now. He’s also around 6 1/2 inches long from head to bottom and about 10 inches from head to heel — the length of a banana.
The paper’s statement that doctors perform ultrasounds at 18 weeks to detect any abnormalities is quite general. I’ve seen several comments that it is cruel to make a mother carry a child that long before having an ultrasound, only having to give birth to a child that will shortly die.
I’ve known women who have ultrasounds as early as 6 or 8 weeks (many have vaginal ultrasounds done to confirm pregnancy). According to Baby Center, you’ll have two ultrasounds during your pregnancy. The first will be your dating ultrasound which is booked at between 10 weeks and 13 weeks plus six days of your pregnancy. At the same time as your dating ultrasound, you will be offered combined screening to check for abnormalities.
I’m glad that the federal judge ruled this way. No official statement from Planned Parenthood on their website yet regarding this decision. Any bets as to what they’ll say?