Sep 26, 2022 - Politics

The future of abortion in Arizona under pre-statehood ban

Illustration of two gavels forming an x in front of the Supreme Court building

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A Pima County judge lifted an injunction Friday that allowed a pre-statehood law banning almost all abortions to take effect.

  • Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who sought to have the injunction lifted, said the ruling provides clarity about the state's abortion laws.
  • But in reality it's left leaders, medical providers and women with more questions.

Why it matters: The future of women's medical care in Arizona continues to be hazy, and Democrats are trying to capitalize on the uncertainty to persuade voters to back them in November.

  • Arizona abortion providers, who had resumed some procedures following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, have stopped providing the procedure.

Catch up quick: Arizona's pre-statehood abortion law makes it a felony to perform all abortions except those needed to save the life of the mother. But it was ruled unenforceable in 1973 after Roe created a national right to abortion care.

  • After the Roe reversal this summer, anti-abortion Republicans sought to have the injunction of the pre-statehood law lifted so it could be enforced again.
  • Pima County Judge Kellie Johnson granted that request but noted there are probably more legal issues left to address regarding the future of abortion in the state.

The intrigue: The state legislature passed a law this year that outlaws abortion after 15 weeks.

  • Gov. Doug Ducey still insists that the new law supersedes the more restrictive law at the center of the Pima County court case.

Yes, but: The new law specifically stated that it did not repeal the pre-Roe prohibition.

  • Also: Johnson noted in her ruling that the legislature has repeatedly emphasized that abortion laws enacted after Roe did not create a right to an abortion in Arizona.

What they're saying: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs and attorney general candidate Kris Mayes held a press conference Saturday morning saying they'd do everything in their power to protect women's abortion rights.

  • “We cannot let (Hobbs' opponent Kari Lake) hold public office and have the power to enact extreme anti-choice policies that she’s spent her entire campaign touting,” Hobbs said.

Of note: Republicans, including Lake and Senate candidate Blake Masters, have not commented on the ruling.

  • “They know how absolutely unpopular this 1901 law is. They know how indefensible it is. And they know that when Nov. 8 comes the people of Arizona are going to resoundingly reject this extreme abortion ban, this attack on the people of Arizona, by voting them down," Mayes said.

What's next: Planned Parenthood Arizona CEO Brittany Fonteno indicated that the legal battle isn't over, saying in a press release that "this is not the end of the fight."

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