Arizona court lifts injunction on abortion law
PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona appeals court, in a victory for abortion opponents, tossed out an injunction on Thursday that blocked key parts of a 2009 Arizona abortion law from taking effect.
A three-member panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court judge was wrong in halting provisions of the controversial law, which includes a mandate that women seeking abortions receive in-person counseling by a doctor at least 24 hours in advance.
The law, challenged in court by Planned Parenthood Arizona, also required minors to present a notarized statement from parents before undergoing an abortion and mandated that only physicians be allowed to perform the procedure.
Another statute of the Abortion Consent Act allowed health professionals to refuse to participate in abortions if they had moral or religious objections.
"We hold that the statutes affected by the preliminary injunction are constitutional, and we therefore vacate the injunction in its entirety," the appeals court wrote in a 44-page opinion.
The Planned Parenthood lawsuit will continue in Maricopa County Superior Court.
In September 2009, Superior Court Judge Donald Daughton issued a preliminary injunction to block four provisions of the law on the grounds that they were likely unconstitutional and could cause harm to women seeking abortions.
Planned Parenthood had argued that the law violated a woman's constitutional right to equal protection and privacy, and put restrictions on abortions like no other procedure.
The appeals court ruling was hailed as a major victory by Republican state officials including Governor Jan Brewer, who said the new regulations would help women as well as parents of daughters seeking abortions.
"These are common sense regulations that will help protect Arizona families, and I'm thrilled the Court has allowed the law to take effect as intended," Brewer said in a written statement.
Bryan Howard, the Arizona Planned Parenthood group's president and chief executive, said he was disappointed in the ruling and did not know if it would be appealed.
"We're looking at all of our options," Howard told Reuters. "The bottom line is that the new restrictions imposed by the law are going to put women in harm's way. And we will fight that."
Planned Parenthood is the state's largest abortion provider, averaging about 9,000 procedures annually.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Johnston)
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