Ariz. State Prosecutors Take Opposite Sides on Suit Against Abortion Law

Two Arizona prosecutors named as defendants in the filing of a lawsuit over the state's recently passed abortion law have come out on opposite sides of the issue.

Attorneys Bill Montgomery of Maricopa County and Barbara LaWall of Pima County were both named as defendants in a suit brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union over an Arizona law that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The suit seeks to delay the implementation of the law.

LaWall submitted a pleading arguing that the enforcement of the law should be delayed while the legal issues surrounding it are processed. LaWall argued that the legislation would violate a Supreme Court ruling which forbids laws banning the abortion procedure before a fetus is considered viable.

Montgomery, however, filed pleadings arguing against the delay in enforcement, believing that the plaintiffs lack a case as the law has yet to take effect in the state.

"Pre-enforcement facial attacks on state abortion statutes are generally disfavored and should not be heard as a matter of law," wrote Montgomery in a motion to dismiss.

"Because Plaintiffs have chosen a highly disfavored facial challenge, this Court should dismiss the lawsuit without prejudice and invite the plaintiffs to file a proper as-applied challenge when they can present this Court with a real woman with concrete facts to prove up their case."

The law connected to the lawsuit, known as House Bill 2036, has among its provisions a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in the event the life or health of the mother is at risk.

Also called the "Mother's Health and Safety Act," HB 2036 passed the Ariz. House of Representatives in a vote of 37 to 22 and then passed the Ariz. State Senate in a vote of 20 to 10. It was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 12.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona denounced the passage of HB 2036, dubbing it "one of the most extreme anti-choice bills this country has ever seen."

Governor Brewer, by contrast, dubbed it "consistent with my strong track record of supporting common sense measures to protect the health of women and safeguard our most vulnerable population – the unborn."

"Governor Brewer is confident this law is constitutional and will be upheld by the court," said Matthew Benson, communications director for the Office of Governor Brewer, in an interview with The Christian Post.

HB 2036 is not the only recently passed Arizona law pertaining to abortion that is being challenged in the courts. According to Benson, House Bill 2800, which "blocks abortion providers from accessing state funds," is being challenged by Planned Parenthood.

If the ACLU and CRR's request is denied by the court, enforcement of HB 2036 will begin Aug. 2.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona did not return a request for comment by press time.

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