ByÂ Warren Richey, Christian Science Monitor
A federal appeals court on Wednesday temporarily blocked enforcement of a tough newÂ Arizonaabortion law that bars doctors from routinely terminating a pregnancy after 20 weeks.
The emergency injunction granted by the three-judge panel of the NinthÂ US Circuit Court of AppealsÂ prevents the law from taking full effect as scheduled on Thursday.
The ruling was not a decision on the merits of the law itself, but was still hailed by activists who had appealed to the Ninth Circuit after a lower court judge upheld the measure this week.
â€œWe are relieved that the court blocked this dangerous ban and that women in Arizona will continue to be able to get safe, appropriate medical care,â€ Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with theÂ ACLUÂ Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement.
The statute, signed on April 12 and known as SB 2036, reduces by three to four weeks the amount of time a woman would have to decide on whether to end her pregnancy or carry the child to term. It allows doctors to perform an abortion after 20 weeks, but only in cases of â€œmedical emergency.â€
Arizona is among 10 states that have enacted laws seeking to regulate the provision of abortions during the time in a pregnancy when the fetus is unable to survive on its own outside the womb.
Doctors consider the point of fetal viability to arrive 23 or 24 weeks into a pregnancy.
A group of physicians in Arizona asked a federal judge to block the law and rule that it violates a womanâ€™s right to decide whether to have an abortion.
On Monday, US District Judge James Teilborg found that the state law was a permissible regulation of abortion and did not violate constitutional protections.
In her motion to the court, Janet Crepps, a lawyer with theÂ Center for Reproductive Rights, said her clients perform more than 50 pre-viability abortions at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy per year.
They were â€œvery likely to have such a patient within the next several days and almost certain to have such a patient within the next 21 days,â€ she wrote.
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