Judge rules Arizona can enforce near-total abortion ban

Judge rules Arizona can enforce near-total abortion ban

Arizona can impose a near-total ban on abortions that has been blocked for nearly 50 years, a judge ruled Friday, meaning clinics across the state will have to stop providing the procedures to avoid criminal charges being filed against doctors and other medical workers.

The judge lifted a decades-old injunction that has long blocked enforcement of the law, on the books since before Arizona became a state, that bans nearly all abortions. The only exemption is if the woman’s life is in danger.

The ruling means people seeking abortions will have to go to another state to get one. The sentence is likely to be appealed.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson’s decision came more than a month after hearing arguments over Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s request to lift the injunction. It had been in place since shortly after the US Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, who held that women had a constitutional right to abortion.

The near total ban on abortion was enacted decades before Arizona gained statehood in 1912.

Prosecutions stopped after the court order was issued following Roe’s decision. Still, the Legislature passed the law several times, most recently in 1977.

Deputy Attorney General Beau Roysden told Johnson at an Aug. 19 hearing that since Roe was overturned, the sole reason the injunction blocked the old law no longer exists and she should allow it to be done. comply. Under that law, anyone who performs a surgical abortion or provides medication for a medical abortion can face two to five years in prison.

An attorney for Planned Parenthood and its Arizona affiliate argued that allowing the earlier statehood ban to be enforced would render a host of newer laws regulating abortion meaningless. Instead, he urged the judge to allow licensed doctors to perform abortions and for the old ban to apply only to unlicensed practitioners.

The judge sided with Brnovich, saying that because the injunction was filed in 1973 only because of the Roe decision, it should be lifted in its entirety.

“The Court finds that an attempt to reconcile fifty years of legislative activity is procedurally improper in the context of the motion and the record before it,” Johnson wrote. “While there may be legal issues that the parties seek to resolve regarding Arizona’s abortion statutes, those issues are not for this Court to decide here.”

The Supreme Court gnaws dump on June 24 and said that states can regulate abortion as they wish.

“We applaud the court for upholding the will of the legislature and providing clarity and uniformity on this important issue,” Brnovich said in a statement. “I have protected and will continue to protect the most vulnerable Arizonans.”

A doctor who runs a clinic that offers abortions said she was shocked but not surprised by the decision.

“It kind of goes with what I’ve been saying for a while now: The people who run this state intend to make abortion illegal here,” said Dr. DeShawn Taylor. “Of course we want to hold on to hope in the back of our minds, but in the front of my mind I’ve been preparing all along for a total ban.”

Abortion providers have been on a rollercoaster ride since Roe was repealed, first shutting down operations, reopening, and now having to shut them down again.

Johnson, the judge, said that Planned Parenthood was free to file a new challenge. But with Arizona’s tough abortion laws and seven Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices, the chances of success seem slim.

What is allowed in each state has changed as legislatures and the courts have acted. Before Friday’s ruling, bans on abortion at any time during pregnancy were in effect in 12 Republican-led states,

In another state, Wisconsin, clinics have stopped performing abortions amid litigation over whether an 1849 ban is in place. Georgia bans abortions once fetal heart activity is detected, and Florida and Utah have bans that take effect after 15 and 18 weeks of gestation, respectively.

The ruling came a day before a new Arizona law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy goes into effect. The law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Republican Governor Doug Ducey in March it was enacted in the hope that the US Supreme Court would lower the limits of abortion regulations. It mirrored a Mississippi law the high court was considering at the time that shaved about nine weeks off the previous threshold.

Ducey has argued that the new law he signed takes precedence over pre-statehood law, but he did not send his lawyers to argue that with Johnson.

The old law was first enacted as part of the body of laws known as the “Howell Code” adopted by the 1st Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1864.

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