Courts Debate State Ban On Abortions At 20 Weeks

December 10, 2013

Supporters of abortion rights urged the United States Supreme Court on Monday to block a state ban on the procedure at 20 weeks. The court has long held that women have the right to terminate a pregnancy until the 23rd or 24th week, when a fetus is viable.

But Arizona lawmakers, citing what they said was evidence a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, banned abortions after that point. The courts so far have prevented that law from taking effect.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery is asking the high court to allow its implementation. Attorney Janet Crepps, of the Center for Reproductive Rights argued against that.

“The court has identified this, that the state can't ban abortion prior to viability, as a central tenet, core component, the heart of the decision in Roe v. Wade,” Crepps said. “And so what the state is asking for is not just a little bit of a moving of the line.”

Crepps says it’s up to women to determine whether to accept greater risk from later-term abortions and that claims about fetal pain are not widely accepted in the medical community.  This is the first such case to go before the high court, so the decision will have national implications.