The Show on KJZZ

Listen live weekdays at 9 a.m.

Federal judge hears arguments on AZ law that would provide personhood to fetuses

By Vaughan Jones
Published: Friday, July 8, 2022 - 3:45pm

Audio icon Download mp3 (1.09 MB)

At the State Capitol, a sign reads: Bans off our bodies. "Our" is underlined.
Amber Victoria Singer/KJZZ
Protesters express discontent with the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the case granting the right to abortion, at the Arizona State Capitol on Friday, June 24, 2022.

A federal district court judge heard oral arguments Friday on whether to block an Arizona law that classifies fetuses, embryos and fertilized eggs as “people” starting at the point of conception.

Several plaintiffs, including the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU, filed an emergency request for injunction on June 25, one day after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The law has seen legal challenges since last year, when other provisions were blocked by the same federal judge.

Gail Deady is the staff attorney for the center. She says the plaintiffs’ argument involved the vagueness of how the law would affect abortion access in Arizona.

“Now that Roe has been overturned, it's completely unclear whether that law allows abortion, or whether it's now banned, whether it's a crime, or, really, what it would mean to acknowledge that a fetus has the same rights as a person,” said Deady.

Deady says the judge asked thought-provoking questions and is weighing the opinions presented, but the center is hoping for a timely resolution to the case.

“Because we've filed this as an emergency request for injunction, we are hoping that the judge will provide a ruling on whether or not the personhood law is to be blocked, in the context of abortion, hopefully within the next week,” said Deady.

Deady says the center and other plaintiffs are prepared to appeal if the judge does not block the law.