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Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who defended the law during a hearing before Teilborg last week, said the 9th Circuit panel’s willingness to hear the case relatively quickly was a positive.

“The order to place the case for argument recognizes the important interests of Arizona,” he said.

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure into law in April after it was approved by the Republican-led Legislature.

While North Carolina has long had a 20-week ban, Nebraska in 2010 was the first state to recently enact one. Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma followed in 2011. Along with Arizona, Georgia and Louisiana approved 20-week bans this year, though Georgia’s law doesn’t take effect until 2013.

A ruling by the 9th Circuit would be binding only in its nine-state territory, which includes Arizona and Idaho.

Another Arizona anti-abortion law approved this year also faces a legal challenge. Similar to laws in other states, that law would prohibit Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers from receiving public money for non-abortion health care.

A judge has approved an agreement by Planned Parenthood Arizona and the state to delay enforcement of the funding ban pending a ruling on the legal challenge to the law.