Wilkinson Stekloff Helps Secure Win Blocking Arizona “Fetal Personhood” Law

A federal district court has granted a preliminary injunction preventing a 2021 law that grants “personhood” rights to fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs from being used to prohibit abortion care in Arizona.

The emergency motion for an injunction was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Arizona, and Wilkinson Stekloff LLP on behalf of the Arizona Medical Association, the Arizona National Council of Jewish Women, Arizona NOW, and two abortion providers, Dr. Paul Isaacson and Dr. Eric Reuss.

“The district court decision blocking the enforcement of Arizona’s personhood law helps protect Arizonans from civil and criminal penalties stemming from the provision of abortion care,” said Wilkinson Stekloff partner Ralia Polechronis. “Before this significant ruling, confusion and fear created by this vague provision were resulting in Arizonans being deprived of access to essential and time-sensitive healthcare. We are proud to have achieved this meaningful victory on behalf of our clients.”

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, all abortion providers stopped services amid the uncertainty of whether the personhood law would allow state officials to prosecute Arizonans for providing — or even receiving — abortion care. The plaintiffs asked the court to block the law as it applied to abortion care.

The personhood law requires Arizona law to be interpreted to acknowledge that fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs have the same rights as other persons. The vague provision placed both providers and pregnant people at risk of arbitrary prosecution. The personhood law was first challenged in court in 2021.  It is one of several conflicting statutes on the books, including a pre-Roe ban on nearly all abortions.