A century-old law banning nearly all abortions must be followed by the Arizona Supreme Court

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The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Tuesday the state must adhere to a 160-year-old law barring all abortions except in cases when “it is necessary to save” a pregnant person’s life – a significant ruling that will make a Civil War-era abortion law enforceable in the state.
The law can be traced to as early as 1864 – before Arizona became a state – and was codified in 1901.
The state Supreme Court has delayed enforcement of the law for 14 days to give the plaintiffs an opportunity to pursue other challenges in a lower court if they wish to do so, including whether the law is constitutional.
Not on my watch.” Her office is looking to pursue options available to ensure the law is not implemented in the state, Mayes said.
Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed the law less than three months before the country’s highest court overturned Roe v. Wade.
When he signed the law in March 2022, Ducey stated the 2022 law would not override the older law.
The state Supreme Court was asked for clarity following months of uncertainty and legal wrangling over which law should apply in the state.
“The people of Arizona are going to have the final say over this,” Mayes, the state attorney general, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tuesday afternoon.


In a landmark decision that will make a state abortion law from the Civil War era enforceable, the Arizona Supreme Court decided on Tuesday that the state must abide by a 160-year-old law prohibiting all abortions save in situations where “it is necessary to save” a pregnant person’s life.

Before Arizona became a state, the law dates back to 1864, and it was codified in 1901. As a result, Arizona joins Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi in having the strongest abortion laws in the nation. These states also have nearly complete bans on abortion, with the potential for two to five years in prison for abortion providers.

In order to allow the plaintiffs to pursue additional challenges in a lower court, including the question of whether the law is constitutional, the state Supreme Court postponed the law’s enforcement for a period of fourteen days.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes vowed, “No woman or doctor will be prosecuted under this draconian law… as long as I am attorney general,” during a press conference following the court’s decision. Not by myself or any other county attorney currently in office in our state. Not while I’m looking. “.

Mayes stated that her office is exploring all of the options available to make sure the law is not put into effect in the state.

In an online statement, she stated, “Today’s decision to reimpose a law from a time when Arizona wasn’t a state, the Civil War was raging, and women couldn’t even vote will go down in history as a stain on our state.”.

The case that gave rise to the 4-2 decision was resurrected after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. ruled in June 2022 that the federal constitution no longer guaranteed the right to an abortion. The state’s nearly complete abortion ban was then set to be enforced once more by the former attorney general of Arizona, but Planned Parenthood Arizona objected, setting off a protracted legal battle that resulted in Tuesday’s decision.

“Doctors are now aware that all abortions—apart from those required to preserve a woman’s life—are prohibited,” the majority of the court stated in the ruling, adding that abortions carried out beyond 15 weeks of pregnancy may now result in criminal penalties.

Vice Chief Justice Ann A. Chief Justice Robert M. Brunelle joined Scott Timmer in dissent.

This case represents the most recent high-profile instance of the fight for access to abortion that has taken place in multiple states following Roe v. Wade was quashed. Almost two dozen states have either outlawed or restricted access to the procedure since that ruling. Providers have issued warnings that laws restricting access to abortion put patients at risk for negative health consequences and physicians at risk for legal repercussions.

“I underwent a safe and lawful abortion a few weeks ago in Arizona for a pregnancy that did not work out,” Arizona Sen. during a press conference on Tuesday, Eva Burch stated. “I had help from someone.”. I had a procedure given to me by someone to prevent me from going through the agony, mess, and discomfort of another miscarriage. And now the topic of whether or not to imprison that doctor is being discussed. “.

Dr. Jill Gibson, chief medical director of Planned Parenthood Arizona, told CNN on Tuesday afternoon that the state Supreme Court decision will have “absolutely unbelievable consequences for the patients in our community and we just… cannot state enough how dire the situation is going to be for the patients who need to access abortion here in Arizona.”.

According to Gibson, “providers need to be able to take care of their patients without fear of criminalization or legal repercussions.”.

Arizona’s Democratic Gov. The fight for residents’ reproductive freedoms is far from over, Katie Hobbs said in an online video statement, criticizing the ruling as well. “.

The government telling you that the best choice you could have made for your health or future could now be viewed as illegal is ridiculous, Hobbs said. “I’ve personally experienced the anguish of losing a pregnancy,” Hobbs admitted. “Until the right to reproductive healthcare is completely established in our state, I will not give up the fight. “.

Furthermore, millions of Arizonans will soon be subject to an even more severe and dangerous abortion ban that does not adequately protect women in situations where their health is in jeopardy or in tragic cases of rape or incest, according to a statement made by President Joe Biden. “.

There was already another law.

Reproductive rights advocates urged the court to uphold a state law passed in 2022 that permits abortions until 15 weeks, while opponents of abortion rights argued that the state should return to the nearly total ban. The Supreme Court justices heard opening arguments in the case last December.

Later-Gov. Less than three months before the nation’s highest court reversed Roe v., Republican Doug Ducey signed the legislation. Wade. The 2022 law excluded cases of rape and incest, but it did require doctors to report cases of medical emergencies to the Arizona Department of Health Services if an abortion is performed after 15 weeks.

Ducey said the 2022 law would not supersede the previous one when he signed it in March 2022.

Following the decision by the US Supreme Court, the Arizona Court of Appeals declared that the state’s two abortion laws needed to be “harmonized,” or reconciled, and that abortion is permitted for up to 15 weeks as long as it is performed by licensed physicians in accordance with all other state laws and regulations (as CNN has previously reported).

After months of ambiguity and legal wrangling over which state law should apply, the state Supreme Court was asked for clarification.

In this, the people who vote will speak.

Voters in Arizona will soon have a say in the issue. Reproductive rights groups Arizona for Abortion Access have announced that they have gathered enough signatures for a ballot initiative that would ask voters to include abortion rights in the state constitution in November 2024.

The campaign is a part of a larger attempt to put abortion on the ballot in multiple states in 2024, a move that proponents of abortion rights hope will give voters back some authority over state courts.

The state attorney general, Chris Mayes, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday afternoon that “the people of Arizona are going to have the final say over this.”. “That ballot measure will likely be approved by the majority of Arizonans, in my opinion. “.

Following Tuesday’s decision, an emergency physician and abortion provider called for state residents to “continue to fight tirelessly to ensure the ballot measure passes” at a press conference with local and state officials. The physician clarified that Tuesday’s decision is “not the end.”. “.

Dr. According to Atsuko Koyama, ectopic pregnancies, domestic abuse, miscarriages, and other conditions are among the reasons why thousands of patients require the procedures.

According to Koyama, the ruling requires “us as physicians to have to consult legislators, lawyers, and hospital administrators – not doctors – to determine if someone can receive life-saving abortion services.”. It puts non-medical professionals in the position of having to have conversations with patients whose lives are in danger with doctors. Additionally, it makes it illegal for me to provide necessary medical care. “.

Further details have been added to this story.

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