Jun 27, 2022 - News

Anger and uncertainty erupt in Phoenix after SCOTUS abortion ruling

Protesters holding pro-choice signs and shouting.
More than 7,000 people gathered Friday at the state Capitol to protest the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Photo: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Most Arizona abortion clinics halted all abortion services Friday because providers don't know which, if any, abortions remain legal in the state following the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Catch up quick: The SCOTUS decision returned authority to states to enact their own abortion laws.

  • Arizona still has a law on the books from 1901, which prohibits almost all abortions.
  • The 1901 law was enjoined in 1973 following the Roe v. Wade ruling and legal experts disagree as to whether that law is enforceable now.

Of note: The legislature passed a new law this session outlawing abortions past 15 weeks, but it won't take effect until the end of September and it's not clear if it will supersede the 1901 law.

What she's saying: "Shameful anti-abortion lawmakers have planned for this very day and done everything they can to intentionally create chaos so that Arizonans are confused, scared and unsure how to exercise their rights," Planned Parenthood Arizona president and CEO Brittany Fonteno.

  • She said her organization won't provide abortions until it receives legal clarity.
Protesters march across a street in downtown Phoenix with tall buildings in the background.
Protesters march near downtown Phoenix after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Friday, June 24, 2022. Photo: Ross D. Franklin/ AP Photos

Meanwhile: A pro-choice march of at the Arizona State Capitol Friday night ended with the Department of Public Safety using tear gas to disperse the crowd.

  • More than 7,000 people attended, according to DPS.

What happened: After the march, a large group of protesters continued to rally outside the Capitol, where the legislature was still in session.

  • Around 8:30pm some demonstrators began banging on the doors of the Senate building and SWAT officers deployed tear gas, AZcentral reported.

DPS said in a statement that tear gas was necessary "due to the direct threat to the occupants of the Senate building and damage to the building itself."

  • At least six memorials in the nearby ​​Wesley Bolin Plaza were vandalized during the protests.

The state put up fencing around the Capitol Saturday morning ahead of a second night of protests by supporters of abortion rights. Four people were arrested after protesters pulled down the fence, AZfamily reported.

The other side: Several hundred supporters of Friday's Supreme Court ruling gathered Saturday morning at the Capitol for their "Life Is Louder" rally.

  • The event, organized by Students for Life Action, a national anti-abortion youth organization, was part of a national mobilization to celebrate "a post-Roe America," the group said in a statement to AZcentral.

What's next: Neighboring states are preparing for heightened demand at abortion clinics as Arizona women may have to cross state lines to access care.

  • Macy Haverda, president of the Wild West Access Fund of Nevada, tells Axios Phoenix that people in northern Arizona were already seeking abortions in Las Vegas because its closer than clinics in Phoenix.
  • She expects even more people from Arizona and Utah to travel to Nevada for abortion services now because Nevada allows abortion up to 24 weeks.
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