The appeals court ruled on a so-called emergency request to halt the law from three doctors who lost a lawsuit alleging the rule was preempted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. A federal judge in Phoenix upheld the statute July 30, ruling that Arizona showed credible evidence that an unborn child may feel pain during such procedures.

Signed by Governor Jan Brewer in April, the law makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by as long as six months in jail, to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in a medical emergencies to prevent death or “irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

The “court’s decision to grant an injunction is disappointing but not entirely unexpected,” Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer, said yesterday in an e-mail. “The court has not yet ruled on the merits of this case and, when it does, Governor Brewer is confident it will uphold this law.”

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