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Will Arizona Ban Abortion Completely? Or Just Restrict It?

June 28, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona has two pathways for addressing abortion: an outright ban as old as the state itself, or the 15-week restriction codified in March.

On Friday, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled that Roe v. Wade invented a nonexistent constitutional right to abortion, wrongly forcing the states to surrender their authority on the subject. Arizona’s elected officials must decide whether to honor the state’s original outright ban on abortion or, instead, enforce the 15-week ban passed earlier this year. The latter will likely go into effect in the second-to-last week of September; the SCOTUS ruling will be effective near the end of next month. 

The Senate’s Republican caucus declared in a press release that the original outright ban is in effect. However, the attorney general’s office hasn’t issued a formal statement of which law it will enforce. It explained in a statement that it’s conducting a legal review.

“This law, that is already on the books, bans most abortions, unless the procedure is necessary to save the life of a mother,” wrote the Senate majority. “Last year, the legislature amended this law, so that the mother who chooses to have an abortion will not face any punishment.”

Long before the legislature revised the ban, the Arizona Court of Appeals enjoined the law as unconstitutional in its 1973 ruling in Nelson v. Planned Parenthood Center of Tucson. That decision was directed by the SCOTUS precedent in Roe

Insecurity over current law prompted Arizona’s abortion providers to suspend abortions until further notice. Chris Love, the chairwoman of Planned Parenthood Arizona’s advocacy arm who bragged about her husband assaulting a black Trump supporter at a pro-abortion rally last month, explained that they didn’t want providers to lose their licenses or police engaging with their patients.

Cathi Herrod, the president of the Center for Arizona Policy, spoke with “Conservative Circus” host James T. Harris about the viability of restoring Arizona’s original abortion ban. 

Herrod opined that Arizona’s original abortion ban would stand because it preceded Roe v. Wade and that was never repealed after. Arizona outlawed abortion from 1901, prior to achieving statehood, up until it was required by the Supreme Court to allow abortions in 1973. The original ban is A.R.S. 13:3603, which only punishes abortion providers and not the pregnant women. 

“I believe that is still good law and that it should be enforceable,” said Herrod.

Herrod clarified that the 1973 Arizona Court of Appeals decision rested on the SCOTUS decision at the time, indicating that the law was no longer enjoined as a result of Friday’s ruling.

Herrod also noted that even the most recent limitation on abortion — SB1164 banning abortions after 15 weeks, signed into law in March — stipulated that it didn’t repeal the state’s original abortion ban. 

“This act does not: […] Repeal, by implication or otherwise, section 13-3602, Arizona Revised Statutes, or any other applicable state law regulating or restricting abortion,” reads the latest law.

In a Facebook post, Herrod added that the state’s original ban had greater enforceability than the 15-week restriction, unless a court enjoins that ban. In that case, Herrod stated that the 15-week restriction would be enforceable. 

In response to claims that the legal system would punish expectant mothers for obtaining abortions, Herrod clarified that no state laws extended punishment to mothers. She noted that Governor Doug Ducey codified a repeal of a pre-Roe law punishing women who received abortions with jail.

Herrod predicted that there would be lawsuits on Arizona’s abortion bans. Pro-abortionists undertook legal action on Saturday, a day after the SCOTUS ruling. ACLU of Arizona, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Arizona Medical Association, and the National Council of Jewish Women Arizona filed an emergency motion in the Arizona District Court.

According to the latest data from the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS), there were nearly 13,300 abortions completed in 2020 — over 36 a day across the dozen facilities that provide abortions in the state. Over 85 percent of those who obtained abortions were unmarried. The greatest number of abortions occurred in women aged 20-24 years old: about 4,000. Over 1,200 of the abortions came from teenagers, from under 15 years old to 19 years old. Over 7,600 of the abortions came from women in the 20’s, and over 3,800 came from women in their 30’s. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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