Suit over Ariz. race, sex abortion ban dismissed

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- A federal judge has dismissed two civil rights groups' lawsuit challenging an Arizona law banning abortions based on the race or sex of the child.

U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell's ruling Thursday says the NAACP's Maricopa County branch and the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum don't have legal standing to sue.

The law makes it a felony to knowingly provide a sex- or race-based abortion.

The groups contended that the law unconstitutionally singles out Asian and black women based on stereotypes and the sponsors' beliefs that Asian and black women may choose an abortion because of race or the baby's sex.

Supporters of the 2011 legislation that became the law said it was intended to prevent discrimination.

Arizona: Abortion banned for race selection (March 30, 2011)

Gov. Jan Brewer has signed what is likely to be the first legislation in the nation to ban abortions over ethnicity. The law makes it a felony to knowingly perform or provide financing for an abortion sought because of the race or sex of the fetus or a parent’s race.

The maximum punishment if convicted is 3.5 years in prison.

Supporters said they wanted Arizona to prevent discrimination-based abortions, and they disagreed with opponents over whether there was evidence that race and sex selection-based agendas were actually occurring in Arizona.

Critics said there was no evidence that selective abortions occur in Arizona, and doctors could face jail time if they lose a newly required affidavit that an abortion is not for selection purposes.

“This law creates a highly unusual requirement that women state publicly their reason for choosing to terminate a pregnancy — a private decision they already made with their physician, partner and family,” Bryan Howard, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Arizona, said in a statement.