An Arizona law banning abortion in nearly all circumstances can be re-enforced after a Pima County judge lifted an injunction that had left the state’s previous law dormant for nearly five decades.
Friday’s decision was immediately praised by abortion foes and lamented by abortion rights advocates, and is a potentially galvanizing force just ahead of November’s midterm elections.
Republican state Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked the court to rule on the requirement after the US Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
The court’s decision earlier this year, in the Mississippi case called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, put the issue of abortion policy back in the hands of the states.
“Act as a court”:Justice Kagan warns against politicizing SCOTUS after Roe reversal
Half terms:Channeling outrage over abortion, Democratic women aim for upheaval in Senate elections
Arizona had conflicting laws on the books, leading to court challenges and confusion among abortion providers about what was legal.
Friday’s ruling by Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson provides clarity to allow enforcement of the old law, which prohibits abortion in all cases except when necessary to save the life of the pregnant person
But abortion rights advocates are likely to appeal, meaning Arizona’s abortion law is still far from settled. Providers expressed shock, outrage and lingering confusion over the ruling, which came a day before another abortion law went into effect.
Abortion in Indiana:Judge temporarily blocks state’s nearly total abortion ban, one week after it took effect
“Today’s ruling by the Pima County Superior Court has the practical and deplorable result of sending Arizonans back nearly 150 years,” Brittany Fonteno, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said in a statement. “No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom and how we live our lives today.”
The basic provisions of the law were first codified by Arizona’s first territorial legislature in 1864: it mandates two to five years in prison for anyone who performs an abortion or the means of an abortion. The state adopted the law with streamlined language in 1901; it remains on the books today as ARS 13-3603.
“We applaud the court for upholding the will of the legislature and providing clarity and uniformity on this important issue,” Brnovich said in a statement Friday. “I have and will continue to protect the most vulnerable Arizonans.”
History of law and case file
The 1864 law was in effect for much of Arizona’s history, and numerous doctors and amateur abortionists went to prison after being convicted of violating it.
A companion law also passed in the 19th century said a woman could face at least a year in prison for obtaining an abortion. That was repealed just last year, though it’s unclear whether any women served time for it. Congress granted Arizona status in 1912.
A Phoenix chiropractor appealed his 1973 prison sentence for having an abortion. when the Roe decision legalized abortion nationwide.
That same year, a Pima County Superior Court judge granted the injunction against Planned Parenthood Arizona (then known as Planned Parenthood of Tucson) weeks before the Roe decision, based on the concept that the provision of Arizona’s right to privacy did not allow the state to ban abortion.
The state Court of Appeals overturned the lower court, but had no choice but to reinstate the injunction once Roe was decided.
Brnovich, saying he wanted to provide “clarity and uniformity” to state abortion law, moved to lift the requirement in July.
Planned Parenthood argued at an Aug. 19 hearing before Johnson that dozens of abortion-related laws were enacted in Arizona over the years since 1973 essentially created a right to abortion. Licensed doctors should be able to continue providing abortions once all laws are “harmonized,” and the state’s previous law could still apply to unlicensed abortion providers, attorneys said.
State attorneys argued that these laws were only passed because of the limitations set by Roe v. Wade, and that pre-state law should once again be the law of the land now that Roe is no longer in effect.
Johnson, who Republican Gov. Doug Ducey appointed to the Pima County bench in 2017, ultimately sided with the state.
Political consequences of the government
The ruling almost immediately increased the political impact of Dobbs’ decision, which had sparked protests at the state Capitol in June.
The reinstatement of Arizona’s Civil War-era law gives new fuel to Democrats, who have emphasized Republicans’ preference for restricting abortion or banning it entirely.
Athletes, abortion and anxiety:Professional women’s sport faces erosion of rights
Arizona Democratic Party Chairwoman Raquel Terán sent a message to Arizonans “continually appalled by the actions of dangerous and out-of-touch Republicans in the war on our bodies” that “we will protect mothers, families, doctors and medical professionals so no one should be thrown in jail for providing or receiving essential medical care.” cure.”
The party also sent out a fundraising email for its effort to defeat “AZ GOP extremists in November.”
Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs quickly condemned the ruling, while her Republican opponent, Kari Lake, remained silent.
“This cruel law effectively bans abortion in Arizona, with no exceptions for rape or incest, and puts at risk women’s fundamental freedom to make their own health decisions,” Hobbs said in a statement. . “I am terrified of the serious and deadly impacts this law will have on Arizonans, and I know many Arizonans feel that fear today as well.”
This year, Ducey passed a law that outraged abortion rights advocates almost as much as the state’s previous law. It orders felony charges against doctors who perform abortions on patients who are more than 15 weeks pregnant and contains only limited exceptions for medical emergencies. Women who have abortions would be immune from prosecution.
The new law also contains a provision stating that it does not repeal the 1864 law or any other ban on abortion. The anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy said the territorial law now takes precedence, although abortion advocates warned that dueling laws would further confuse providers and families.
Cathi Herrod, president of the Arizona Policy Center, said in response to the ruling, “Arizona can and will take care of both the mother and her unborn child.”
“Most abortions are now illegal in Arizona, changing the focus on women facing unplanned pregnancies,” she said in a statement. “Judge Kellie Johnson’s ruling today upholding the law that was in place in 1973 when Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided will protect unborn babies and their mothers. And nearly 50 pregnancy resource centers in the entire state is ready to ensure that no woman is alone.”