PHOENIX — A federal judge in Arizona has tossed out a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on race and gender-based abortions, which was filed due to an assertion that the law encourages racial profiling and stereotyping.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona had filed the legal challenge earlier this year on behalf of the Maricopa County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Asian Pacific Women’s Forum. The groups state that the law, which requires that women sign an affidavit swearing that they are “not aborting the child because of the child’s sex or race,” stigmatizes people of color and infringes upon their “right” to have an abortion.
However, the text of the law, which was signed by Governor Jan Brewer in 2011, asserts that “[e]vidence shows that minorities are targeted for abortion, and that sex selection abortion is also occurring in our country.”
“There is no place for such discrimination or equality in society,” the statute, sponsored by Representative Steve Montenegro, declares.
Representative Trent Franks, a Southern Baptist who supported the bill in the House, stated that the law was Biblical.
“In Matthew 25, Jesus said ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,’” he declared on the House floor. “And in 1847, Frederick Douglass said, ‘Right is of no sex; truth is of no color, God is the Father of us all – and all are brethren.’
“Those two statements really sum up everything this legislation is about,” Franks continued. “Indeed, this legislation is representative of some of the most sacred truths upon which our nation was founded: that ALL men are created equal, regardless of their age, skin color, or station in life.”
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge David Campbell tossed out the ACLU’s challenge against the law, stating that the NAACP and the National Asian Pacific Women’s Forum lacked standing in the case, as they could not prove personal harm.
“Stigmatizing injury alone is not sufficient for standing in equal protection cases,” he wrote. “Plaintiffs must also show that their members personally have been denied equal treatment by the Act.”
“They do not assert that their members have been or will be denied abortions or other medical care, nor that their members have been or will be threatened with enforcement or liability under the Act,” Campbell noted.
The groups expressed their disagreement with Campbell’s conclusion following the dismissal.
“We are disappointed the court refused to hear this case, instead choosing to dismiss it on procedural grounds,” Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, wrote in a statement. “This law unfairly stereotypes Asian American and African American women and perpetuates anti-immigrant sentiment. The court’s denial that stigma causes real harm is misguided and frankly false. We, and the millions of women of color who live with bias every day, understand its real-world impact on our health and our livelihood.”
However, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Scottsdale-based Christian legal organization that represented Montenegro and the Frederick Douglas Foundation, applauded the outcome.
“Every innocent life deserves to be protected, and that’s especially true of babies being targeted for death simply because of their sex or race,” stated senior counsel Casey Mattox. “There is nothing medically necessary or constitutionally protected about an abortion that is committed on the basis of sex or race, and the NAACP should be opposed to such a practice more than anyone. The court has done the right thing in dismissing this meritless lawsuit.”
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