Dec 31, 2022 - Health

Arizona court rules abortion doctors can't be prosecuted

Abortion rights activist protests during a rally in Arizona on July 4. Photo: Sandy Huffaker / AFP via Getty Images

The Arizona Court of Appeals issued a ruling Friday saying abortion doctors can't be prosecuted under an 1864 law that criminalizes nearly all abortions.

Driving the news: But the court declined to repeal the pre-statehood law, which has been barred from being enforced for nearly 50 years.

  • Doctors can't be charged for performing the procedure because of other state laws allowing the procedure.
  • "The statutes, read together, make clear that physicians are permitted to perform abortions" as regulated by existing abortion laws, the ruling states.

Background: The 150-year-old law makes it a felony to perform all abortions except those needed to save the life of the mother, and it does not provide exceptions for rape or incest.

  • It was ruled unenforceable in 1973 after Roe v. Wade created a national right to abortion care.
  • After the reversal of Roe earlier this year, anti-abortion Republicans sought to have the injunction of the pre-statehood law lifted so it could be enforced again.

What they're saying: "This is a monumental victory," Planned Parenthood president and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement.

  • "For the past six months, Arizonans have lived in a state of confusion and uncertainty with the ongoing threat of this Civil War-era abortion ban. Today, patients and providers can finally breathe a sigh of relief."
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