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Judge says Arizona’s abortion ban can take effect

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Updated: 2:38 p.m. Monday, July 30, 2012

Published: 2:13 p.m. Monday, July 30, 2012

Arizona’s ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy will take effect this week as scheduled after a federal judge ruled Monday that the new law is constitutional.

U.S. District Judge James Teilborg said the statute may prompt a few pregnant women who are considering abortion to make the decision earlier. But he said the law is constitutional because it doesn’t prohibit any women from making the decision to end their pregnancies.

The judge also wrote that the state provided “substantial and well-documented” evidence that an unborn child has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion by at least 20 weeks.

The ban, set to take effect Thursday, is similar but not identical to those enacted by other states. It prohibits abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy except in medical emergencies. That is a change from the current ban at viability, which is the ability to survive outside the womb and which generally is considered to be about 24 weeks. A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks.

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the ban into law in April, making Arizona one of 10 states to enact types of 20-week bans.

Teilborg held a hearing Wednesday on a request from abortion-rights groups that he temporarily block the law’s enforcement.

The abortion-rights groups’ lawyer said during the hearing that the ban crosses a clear line on what U.S. Supreme Court rulings permit, and it intrudes on women’s health decisions at a key point in pregnancy. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said the state Legislature was justified in enacting the ban to protect the health of women and shield fetuses from pain.

A second Arizona anti-abortion law enacted earlier this year also faces a court challenge. That law would bar public funding for non-abortion health care provided by abortion doctors and clinics.

Both anti-abortion laws are among many approved by Arizona’s Republican-led Legislature. The other laws include restrictions on clinic operations, mandates for specific disclosures and a prohibition on a type of late-term abortion.

Attorney Janet Crepps of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights argued at Wednesday’s hearing that under Supreme Court decisions starting with the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling that legalized abortion, states can only regulate how abortions are performed, not ban them, before a fetus is viable.

Montgomery said that not implementing the 20-week ban would doom fetuses that might be saved due to advances in medicine.

While North Carolina has long had a 20-week ban, Nebraska in 2010 was the first state to recently enact one. Five more states followed in 2010: Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Along with Arizona, Georgia and Louisiana approved 20-week bans this year, though Georgia’s doesn’t take effect until 2013.

The Center for Reproductive Rights said none of the 20-week bans have so far been blocked by courts.

___

July 30, 2012 03:38 PM EDT

Copyright 2012, The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(Source: statesman.com)

Filed under Arizona Abortion 20 weeks Judge Ruling Roe v Wade

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This is outrageous. What is wrong with this country?

Supreme Court Ruling Allows Strip-Searches for Any Offense


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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by the court’s conservative wing, wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess the judgments of correctional officials who must consider not only the possibility of smuggled weapons and drugs but also public health and information about gang affiliations.

About 13 million people are admitted each year to the nation’s jails, Justice Kennedy wrote.

Under Monday’s ruling, he wrote, “every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed.”

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the four dissenters, said strip-searches were “a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy” and should be used only when there was good reason to do so.

The decision endorses a more recent trend, from appeals courts in AtlantaSan Franciscoand Philadelphia, in allowing searches no matter how minor the charge. Some potential examples cited by dissenting judges in the lower courts and by Justice Breyer on Monday included violating a leash law, driving without a license and failing to pay child support.

The Supreme Court case arose from the arrest of Albert W. Florence in New Jersey in 2005. Mr. Florence was in the passenger seat of his BMW when a state trooper pulled his wife, April, over for speeding. A records search revealed an outstanding warrant based on an unpaid fine. (The information was wrong; the fine had been paid.)

Mr. Florence was held for a week in jails in two counties, and he was strip-searched twice. There is some dispute about the details but general agreement that he was made to stand naked in front of a guard who required him to move intimate parts of his body. The guards did not touch him.

“Turn around,” Mr. Florence, in an interview last year, recalled being told by jail officials. “Squat and cough. Spread your cheeks.”

“I consider myself a man’s man,” said Mr. Florence, a finance executive for a car dealership. “Six-three. Big guy. It was humiliating. It made me feel less than a man.”

The federal courts of appeal were divided over whether blanket policies requiring jailhouse strip-searches of people arrested for minor offenses violate the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches. At least seven had ruled that such searches were proper only if there was a reasonable suspicion that the arrested person had weapons or contraband.

Justice Kennedy said the most relevant precedent was Bell v. Wolfish, which was decided by a 5-to-4 vote in 1979. It allowed strip-searches of people held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York after “contact visits” with outsiders.

As in the Bell case, Justice Kennedy wrote, “the undoubted security imperatives involved in jail supervision override the assertion that some detainees must be exempt from the more invasive search procedures at issue absent reasonable suspicion of a concealed weapon or other contraband.”

The majority and dissenting opinions drew differing conclusions from the available statistics and anecdotes about the amount of contraband introduced into jails and how much strip-searches add to pat-downs and metal detectors.

“It is not surprising that correctional officials have sought to perform thorough searches at intake for disease, gang affiliation and contraband,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “Jails are often crowded, unsanitary and dangerous places.”

“There is a substantial interest,” he added, “in preventing any new inmate, either of his own will or as a result of coercion, from putting all who live or work at these institutions at even greater risk when he is admitted to the general population.”

In separate concurrences, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. emphasized the limits of the majority opinion. Chief Justice Roberts, quoting from an earlier decision, said that exceptions to Monday’s ruling were still possible “to ensure that we ‘not embarrass the future.’ ”

Justice Alito wrote that different rules may apply for people arrested but not held with the general population or whose detentions had “not been reviewed by a judicial officer.”

In his dissent in the case, Florence v. County of Burlington, No. 10-945, Justice Breyer wrote that the Fourth Amendment should be understood to prohibit strip-searches of people arrested for minor offenses not involving drugs or violence unless officials had a reasonable suspicion that the people to be searched were carrying contraband.

Filed under supreme court ruling strip search arrest