Arizona Supreme Court Ruling Revives 1860s Abortion Law

April 10, 2024
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… physicians are now on notice that all abortions, except those necessary to save a woman’s life, are illegal …

The Arizona Supreme Court majority ruling the state must prohibit all abortions except in cases when “it is necessary to save” a pregnant woman’s life.

Why It Matters: Arizona’s top court cleared the way for enacting a Civil War-era law forbidding abortions, except in cases that it is needed to save a woman’s life. The 1864 law punishes abortion providers with time in prison, with the justices noting additional criminal and regulatory sanctionsmay be applicable for abortions performed following the 15th week of pregnancy. Prior legislation in Arizona restricted abortions past 15 weeks of pregnancy. But with the older law being revived – which Arizona’s Supreme Court said overrides the more recent legislation – the state will have some of the strictest abortion laws in the U.S., alongside Alabama, Mississippi and Texas.

*However* the law will not go into effect for at least 14 days, providing opportunity for challenges to the law in lower courts in the meantime. Officials have spoken out against the law – which dates back to before Arizona became a state. Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said, “No woman or doctor will be prosecuted under this draconian law … as long as I am attorney general. Not by me, nor by any county attorney serving in our state. Not on my watch.”

Read More: What to know about the Arizona Supreme Court ruling that reinstates an 1864 near-total abortion ban (The Associated Press)

Arizona Supreme Court rules state must adhere to century-old law banning nearly all abortions (CNN)

Trump says Arizona’s abortion ban goes ‘too far’ and defends the overturning of Roe v. Wade (The Associated Press)

by Emily Hooker, based in Texas

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