Arizona Asks SCOTUS to Allow Abortion Ban on Cases Involving Genetic Abnormalities

Arizona is hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court will allow the enforcement of an abortion ban that would outlaw procedures solely because the fetus would have a genetic condition.

The case is the latest on reproductive rights to go to the Supreme Court in recent weeks and comes from Arizona's Republican attorney general, Mark Brnovich. The law was temporarily blocked by a federal district judge in September, with the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upholding the decision. However, Brnovich is hoping that the Supreme Court, particularly Justice Elena Kagan, will honor the ban.

"This court has never otherwise recognized the purported right at issue—a right to race-, sex- or genetic-selective abortions," he said during the state's appeal. "The right to perform an abortion based solely on the results of genetic testing is novel, with no basis in the Constitution's text or the nation's history and traditions."

Arizona is just one of the dozen states that have enacted bans on abortion based on genetic developments, such as Down syndrome. The law would criminalize doctors who perform abortions for this reason, according to USA Today. While not part of the law, abortions based on race and sex are also prevalent in Arizona.

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Arizona is hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court will allow the enforcement of an abortion ban that would outlaw procedures solely because the fetus would have a genetic condition. SIBAS_minich/Getty

The request from Brnovich comes as the high court is weighing rolling back abortion rights nationwide and in the immediate aftermath of a decision keeping in place Texas' ban on abortion after about six weeks, while allowing some challenges to the law to continue.

The federal appeals court in Cincinnati allowed Ohio's law to take effect and appellate judges in St. Louis are deliberating over a similar law in Missouri.

When the issue last came to the Supreme Court, in 2019, the justices rejected Indiana's appeal over enforcing its law, which also prohibited abortion because of the race or sex of the fetus. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a lengthy opinion in which he said the Indiana law "and other laws like it promote a State's compelling interest in preventing abortion from becoming a tool of modern-day eugenics."

Brnovich argued in court papers that the law furthers Arizona's interest in protecting the disability community from discrimination. He also wrote that it's not right to call the law an abortion ban. A woman still could obtain an abortion in such circumstances if she doesn't say why she wants one or makes a decision independent of a fetal abnormality, among other reasons, he wrote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.