By Corinne Murdock |
Gov. Katie Hobbs exercised her executive authority to take the enforcement of abortion law into her own hands.
On Friday — almost one year to the day that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade via Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — Hobbs issued an executive order rescinding county attorneys’ authority to prosecute in abortion-related cases, instead granting sole authority to Attorney General Kris Mayes. In a statement, Hobbs characterized abortion as a “fundamental right.”
“I signed an Executive Order protecting Arizonans’ reproductive freedom,” said Hobbs. “I will not allow extreme and out of touch politicians to get in the way of the fundamental rights of Arizonans.”
In addition to strengthening control over abortion prosecutions, Hobbs’ executive order directed state agencies to not assist in investigations relating to those who provide, assist, seek, or obtain abortions; banned compliance with other states’ extradition requests for those who provided, assisted, sought, or received an abortion where illegal; and established an advisory council to formulate strategy on expanding abortion access.
The executive order declared that abortion restrictions and bans were inimical to equity for those who get the most abortions: non-white, disabled, and poor individuals. The order also declared abortion as a form of freedom.
“[L]imitations on access to reproductive healthcare disproportionately impact people of color, people who live in rural and tribal communities, people with low incomes, and people with disabilities,” stated the order.
In addition to abortions, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Protecting Reproductive Freedom will be charged with expanding access and implementing equitable solutions concerning sexual and reproductive health care resources. Hobbs will appoint the council chair and members. The executive order noted that the council would “reflect the diversity” of Arizona to include indigenous, rural, and LGBTQ+ members.
Planned Parenthood, an abortion provider which also offers sexual and reproductive health care items, expanded their resources over the past year to include gender transition drugs like puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy.
Pro-life groups challenged Hobbs’ statutory authority behind the executive order immediately.
In a press release, Center for Arizona Policy claimed that state law only allows for the attorney general to aid county attorneys in their duties — not replace them.
“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. Hobs has exceeded her authority as governor,” stated Herrod. “The law does not allow her to strip county attorneys of their clear enforcement authority as granted in various Arizona laws.”
Hobbs preceded the executive order with an announcement of support for the Arizona Right to Contraception Act on Thursday.
Arizona law currently bans abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation.