AZ Upholds Abortion Ban

    **ADVANCE FOR MONDAY, FEB. 18** Doctor Salim Chami performs ultrasound ecography on a patient who did not want to give her name at an abortion clinic in Madrid on Jan. 30, 2008. Spaniards have digested major change without a hiccup in recent years, embracing same-sex marriage, fast-track divorce and other reforms at odds with their Catholic roots. But one issue has remained too sensitive to touch, abortion. And in recent weeks it has flared into a dispute so nasty it prompted what organizers call the world's first strike by abortion clinics. Staffers have been arrested, a judge has interrogated 25 women who underwent abortions and only last week thousands more women swarmed a Madrid courthouse in a show of solidarity, shouting that they, too, had terminated a pregnancy and demanded a change in the law to provide abortion on demand. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

    Victor R. Caivano / AP Photos

    A federal judge in Arizona has upheld the state’s disputed ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy except in medical emergencies, which will go into effect on Thursday as scheduled. The judge said the new law is constitutional because it doesn’t prohibit women from the right to choose, though it may force women considering abortion to make the choice earlier. He also noted in the statute that Arizona provided “substantial and well-documented” evidence that an unborn child can feel pain during an abortion at 20 weeks. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure into law in April, along with another law that blocks funding for its abortion-providing clinics. The New York–based Center for Reproductive Rights said it and another group plan to file an emergency appeal against the ruling with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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