New Arizona Law Criminalizes Abortion Due to Genetic Fetal Abnormality

Arizona has passed a broad-based law that makes it a felony for a physician to perform an abortion because of a fetal genetic abnormality or for anyone to fund an abortion for that reason. The law also allows the father or, if the mother is under age 18, the grandparents of a fetus aborted due to genetic abnormalities, to sue.

Republican Governor Doug Ducey, who has never failed to sign a piece of anti-abortion legislation, according to Yahoo!News, signed the measure, SB 1457, into law on April 27.

Although the new law is unlikely unconstitutional, Arizona joins several other states with Republican-controlled legislatures that have enacted anti-abortion laws deliberately destined for challenges before the newly majority-conservative U.S. Supreme Court.

Arizona Anti-Abortion Law Deems Embryos Legal Persons

In addition to criminalizing the doctor-patient relationship for pregnant women, the new Arizona law also contains a number of provisions popular with anti-abortion activists, including a ban on mail delivery of abortion medications and a prohibition on state funding for organizations that provide abortions. Among the most concerning aspects of the law is a fetal “personhood” clause that would provide an avenue for the state to charge women who have an abortion, or potentially even those who lose a child through accident or miscarriage, with murder or child endangerment.

As we have reported, several states have enacted personhood laws that would confer legal personage and full civil rights on unborn embryos, as yet untested in court and intended as alternate paths to a U.S. Supreme Court challenge of Roe v. Wade. The landmark legislation, which established a woman's right to choose an abortion as a protected right to privacy guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, has been under attack by right-wing and religious conservatives since its enactment in 1973. Now following the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the appointment of three conservative justices by the Trump administration, the Court’s 6-3 conservative majority has energized the anti-abortion movement, resulting in a flood of state anti-abortion laws designed to test Roe v. Wade.

Reproductive Medical Staff May Face Felony Charges

The Arizona law does carve out an exemption to the personhood clause for in vitro fertilization (IVF), a fertility treatment that can result in multiple embryos, some of which may be discarded or never used. In a statement of opposition to the law, Democratic legislators raise concerns that the scope of the exemption is unclear, calling into question the potential liability of IVF clinic staff, anesthesiologists, nurses or cryopreservation technicians.

The anti-abortion law also provides an exemption for a “lethal fetal condition,” defined as a reasonable certainty that the baby would not live beyond three months past birth. The amendment was added at the request of two Republican women legislators, with intent to prevent a woman from being forced to carry to term a fetus not able to survive. But one Democratic legislator, a physician, questioned the ability of doctors to make that determination.

Families Trapped Between Anti-Choice Movement and Courts

SB 1457 is a terrible law for a lot of reasons. The measure jeopardizes the relationship of trust that is essential between doctor and patient. Will women be able to trust that their doctors are giving them their best advice, or will they fear their doctors will advise them based on potential liability? Will patients be honest with their doctors about why they desire an abortion?

But this Arizona law was not designed to be good legislation. It was designed as ammunition in the war against a woman’s right to choose.

Earlier in April, a federal appeals court narrowly reversed two lower court decisions that blocked enforcement of a similar Ohio law, enacted in 2017, ruling that prohibiting abortions due to a Down syndrome diagnoses does not violate a woman’s right to an abortion. A South Carolina abortion law also is on hold and is being challenged in federal court.

The stage is undeniably being set for this battle to head to the Supreme Court. I envision the flood of restrictive new laws as a mousetrap or “booby trap.” Stuck inside are innocent families, intended parents and healthcare professionals, trapped between conservative state legislators and anti-abortion agitators and the courts.

The only thing that is unclear is which one of these new laws will serve as the trigger. The results may dramatically change the American landscape for reproductive rights for generations. In the meantime, these onerous laws will prevent many women from getting the independent medical care and advice they need, which could lead to even more dangerous outcomes for all involved.


Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.