Arizona has a 160-year-old abortion ban

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“Physicians are now on notice that all abortions, except those necessary to save a woman’s life, are illegal,” the court said in a 4-to-2 decision.
Abortion providers said they expected to continue performing abortions through May as their lawyers and Democratic lawmakers searched for new legal arguments and additional tactics to delay the ruling.
Democrats condemned it as a “stain” on Arizona that would put women’s lives at risk.
Several Republicans, sensing political peril, also criticized the ruling and called for the Republican-controlled Legislature to repeal it.
The decision from the Arizona Supreme Court concerned a law that was on the books long before Arizona achieved statehood.
It outlaws abortion from the moment of conception, except when necessary to save the life of the mother, and it makes no exceptions for rape or incest.
Doctors prosecuted under the law could face fines and prison terms of two to five years.
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Tuesday’s ruling by Arizona’s highest court upheld an 1864 statute that outlaws almost all abortions, a decision that may have significant ramifications for women’s health care and election-year politics in a crucial battleground state.

In a 4–2 ruling, the court declared, “Physicians are now on notice that all abortions, except those necessary to save a woman’s life, are illegal.”.

However, the court—all of whose justices are Republican appointees—also decided to remand the case to a lower court so that further arguments regarding the constitutionality of the law could be made. Providers of abortions stated that they planned to carry on with their operations through May while Democratic lawmakers and their attorneys looked for fresh ways to appeal the decision and new legal defenses.

A political earthquake was immediately caused by the ruling. Democrats denounced it, calling it a “stain” on Arizona that would endanger the lives of women. Sensing political danger, a number of Republicans rejected the decision as well and demanded that the Republican-controlled Legislature repeal it.

The ruling from the Arizona Supreme Court pertained to a statute that was enacted prior to Arizona’s statehood. It is strictly prohibited from the time of conception, with the exception of situations in which the mother’s life is in danger. Rape and incest are also grounds for exemption. Physicians found guilty under the law may be sentenced to two to five years in prison as well as fines.

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