Skip to main content
Card Image

Pro-life groups urge AZ Supreme Court to uphold state law protecting women, children

Numerous friend-of-the-court briefs filed with state’s high court

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

PHOENIX – A number of pro-life advocacy groups, Arizona state legislators, and 17 states have united in support of protecting unborn lives and women’s health by filing friend-of-the-court briefs with the Arizona Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood of Arizona v. Mayes.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Dr. Eric Hazelrigg, an obstetrician and medical director of Choices Pregnancy Center in Arizona, filed a petition in March with the state’s high court. The petition asks the Arizona Supreme Court to reverse an appeal court’s ruling that rewrote the state’s pro-life law and thwarted the Arizona Legislature’s intent to enact that law, and to lift an injunction that halted the law from taking effect.

“Pro-life laws like the one in Arizona not only help protect the lives of countless innocent, unborn children, but they also protect the dignity and health of women by providing real support during a difficult time. Arizona is eager to preserve the innocent lives of children and restore dignity to women and the medical profession,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life. “Since Attorney General Mayes has said she refuses to defend the state’s duly enacted pro-life law, we urge the Arizona Supreme Court to listen to the voices of the legislators, other states, and numerous groups who have joined in asking the court to uphold this critical law that protects the lives of mothers and their children.”

In September 2022, the Arizona Superior Court in Pima County appointed Hazelrigg as the guardian ad litem to legally represent the best interests of unborn children in Arizona. The court also ruled that the state is free to protect the lives of unborn children and the health and safety of mothers by enforcing its pre-Roe v. Wade law that offers substantial protection from the harms of abortion. ADF attorneys argued for that result in a brief filed in August 2022, asking the court to grant then Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s request to lift the injunction against the state’s pro-life law, which the court had previously blocked based on Roe.

“Scientific and technological advancements since Roeunderscore the State’s compelling interests in protecting fetal life at all stages, including before viability,” the Charlotte Lozier Institute wrote in its brief. “For instance, 4D ultrasonography has provided direct and convincing proof of fetal discernment, intentionality, and sociality from as early as 12 weeks of life. Moreover, a mountain of recent scientific evidence shows that, through neural structures developing between 12 and 18 weeks, the fetus can and does experience conscious pain in utero. Given the wealth of recent scientific evidence establishing the human fetus’s independent, conscious experience and actual suffering, this Court should reverse the judgment below, lift the injunction, and uphold [the state’s pro-life law].”

“For a half century, the United States Supreme Court wrongly ‘prohibit[ed] the citizens of [Arizona] from ... prohibiting abortion.’ Last year, the Supreme Court finally ‘corrected [its] mistake’ and ‘return[ed] the issue of abortion to the people and their elected representatives,’” the brief led by the state of Arkansas and joined by 16 other states, explains. “And yet, the court of appeals still accepted Planned Parenthood’s invitation to ‘short-circuit the democratic process and blocked Arizona from resuming enforcement of a ban long on its books. The Arizona judiciary should not continue to deny the people ‘the power to address [this] question of profound moral and social importance.’ This Court should grant the petition for review and reverse.”

  • Pronunciation guide: Harle (HAR’-lee)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

# # #

Friend-of-the-court briefs filed with Arizona Supreme Court