Arizona Politicos React To Hobbs’ Abortion Executive Order

June 26, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona’s reliably pro-life status is getting whiplash this week thanks to its Democrat Governor’s efforts to legislate by an executive order.

Last week, as the nation prepared for the anniversary of the landmark opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs worked to remake the state’s pro-life reputation and to reclaim her standing within the Arizona Democrat Party as a devoted champion of its platform.

First, Governor Hobbs held a Thursday press conference to announce her support for future passage of the Arizona Right to Contraception Act. The governor tweeted, “Reproductive freedoms are under threat. That’s why I was proud to join Rep. Athena Salman to announce my support for the Arizona Right to Contraception Act, which will ensure all Arizonans have the right to access birth control. I will never back down in the fight to protect our freedoms.”

Representative Salman was thrilled with the governor’s endorsement of her legislation, writing, “Thank you Governor Hobbs for your leadership in protecting our reproductive rights and freedom. Birth control is a human right with overwhelming public support. The Arizona Right to Contraception Act will enshrine this right into law for every family in our state.”

This bill is likely to languish in the Republican-led Legislature next session – as was indicated by the Speaker Pro Tempore for the Arizona House of Representatives, Travis Grantham, who tweeted, “Dead on Arrival.”

Hobbs saved her most noteworthy action for the end of the week, though, signing an executive order that would “centralize all abortion-related prosecutions under the Attorney General to ensure differences in application of the law by county attorneys do not restrict access to legal abortions.”

Democrat Attorney General Kris Mayes cheered on this move by the governor, tweeting, “Together, Governor Hobbs and I will continue to do what the voters of Arizona elected us to do – fight like hell to protect the rights of Arizonans to make their own private medical decisions without interference.”

The governor’s order also “directed state agencies to not assist in any investigations relating to providing, assisting, seeking or obtaining reproductive health care that would be legal in Arizona; and established the Governor’s Advisory Council on Protecting Reproductive Freedom to make recommendations that expand access to reproductive healthcare in Arizona.” She also highlighted that “Arizona will decline extradition requests from other states seeking to prosecute individuals who provide, assist, seek or receive abortion services legal in Arizona.”

Republicans were quick to assail Hobbs’ order and highlight the potentially tenuous nature of this action. Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma told AZ Free News that “We are thoroughly reviewing the executive order to determine its legality. At a minimum, this order shows disrespect and contempt for the judiciary. Arizona’s abortion laws are still in litigation in light of the Supreme Court’s historic Dobbs ruling. The Governor cannot unilaterally divert statutory authority to prosecute criminal cases from Arizona’s 15 county attorneys to the Attorney General.”

Senate President Warren Petersen also weighed in on the governor’s order, telling AZ Free News: “Instead of focusing on pressing issues everyday Arizonans are struggling with, like inflation and the economy, Hobbs is setting a dangerous precedent by pulling a PR stunt to appeal to special interest groups and attempting to usurp law enforcement. In the end, this is another do-nothing executive order meant to pander to her liberal base and create unnecessary division on polarizing topics.”

Senator Jake Hoffman told AZ Free News that “This partisan PR stunt by Katie Hobbs is a gross, unconstitutional overreach intended to do nothing more than pander to her far-Left extremist base, and distract from her pathetic track record of failure, chaos, and instability. From getting rolled on the budget to historically high turnover of her senior staff, Hobbs continues to demonstrate how politically and intellectually weak she is with these halfcocked schemes that will never hold up in court.”

Freshman Republican Representative Cory McGarr tweeted, “The sitting governor does not have the authority to make law! Lawless tyrants and authoritarians abuse their power and abuse the people by stripping away their representation through the legislature. This can not stand.”

Former Arizona Attorney General candidate Abe Hamadeh, who is still engaged in litigation over his historic, razor-thin defeat to Mayes last November, also condemned the governor’s order, saying, “Lawless government. The legislature makes laws, not the executive branch unilaterally.”

In a press release, Cathi Herrod, President of the Center for Arizona Policy, pointed out that state law likely does not bestow the power that the governor took upon herself in this executive order. Herrod stated, “Arizona law, A.R.S. 41-101, Section 8 states that the governor ‘may require the attorney general to aid a county attorney in the discharge of his duties.’ Aid does not mean supplant or replace. In her zeal for abortion, Gov. Hobbs has exceeded her authority as governor. The law does not allow her to strip county attorneys of their clear enforcement authority as granted in various Arizona laws. On the anniversary of Dobbs, the better approach would be for Gov. Hobbs to fulfill her pledge to serve all Arizonans, starting with coming together to find ways to serve the needs of pregnant women.”

These actions from Hobbs may signal an abrupt end to Arizona’s standing as one of the most pro-life states in the nation, leaving behind a strong body of work from the state’s past two governors and attorneys general. After the Dobbs decision last year, then-Governor Doug Ducey posted, “I am proud that Arizona has been ranked the most pro-life state in the country. Here, we will continue to cherish life and protect it in every way possible.”

Former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich was a staunch defender of life during his two terms in office. Most notably, Brnovich took his defense of SB 1457, which prohibited discriminatory abortions based on genetic abnormalities, to the U.S. Supreme Court. After the high court granted the Attorney General’s request to allow this law to go into effect in June 2022, Brnovich stated, “I am pleased with today’s ruling and proud to defend Arizona’s law that protects the unborn.”

Earlier this year, Republican leaders at the Arizona Legislature celebrated their “successful intervention(s) in cases to defend state laws and fight against federal overreach.” One of those cases was the SB 1457 (or Isaacson) litigation, where “a federal court granted Speaker Toma’s and President Petersen’s motion to intervene to defend a law that prohibits abortions based solely on a child’s genetic abnormality after Arizona Attorney General Mayes stated she would not defend the law.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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