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Arizona Supreme Court outlaws most abortions

A judge's gavel rests on a book of law. (Dreamstime/TNS)
April 09, 2024

Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the state can now enforce a law that originated in 1864, which bans most abortions and criminalizes most abortion procedures.

In Tuesday’s 4-2 ruling, the Arizona Supreme Court majority wrote, “Physicians are now on notice that all abortions, except those necessary to save a woman’s life, are illegal.”

According to Fox News, the law, which can be traced back to 1864 and was officially codified in 1913 after Arizona became a state, makes it a felony for anyone who “provides, supplies or administers to a pregnant woman, or procures such woman to take any medicine, drugs or substance, or uses or employs any instrument or other means whatever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of such woman, unless it is necessary to save her life.”

Fox News reported that those who do not follow the 1913 law could face a 2-5 year prison sentence. The outlet reported that the law was never repealed and that an Arizona court ruled last year that the ban could remain if it was compatible with a law established in 2022, which limited abortion to the first 15 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy.

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The Arizona Supreme Court’s Tuesday ruling determined that the 2022 abortion law “does not create a right to, or otherwise provide independent statutory authority for, an abortion that repeals or restricts” the former law established in 1913. The court added that it “is predicated entirely on the existence of a federal constitutional right to an abortion since disclaimed” by the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

While the court ruled that the law banning all abortions except to save the life of the mother is “now enforceable,” the ruling will not go into effect for 14 days.

Following Tuesday’s ruling, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser issued a statement applauding the court’s decision. She described the court’s decision as a “major advancement” in Arizona’s “fight for life.”

“We celebrate this enormous victory for unborn children and their mothers. Reinstating Arizona’s pro-life law will protect more than 11,000 babies annually at all stages of pregnancy while providing an exception for the life of the mother,” Dannenfelser stated. “This includes babies who have heartbeats, babies who can feel pain, and babies who can smile and suck their thumbs.”

On the other hand, President Joe Biden’s administration released a statement opposing the court’s decision. The president claimed the ban was “cruel” and said, “Millions of Arizonans will soon live under an even more extreme and dangerous abortion ban, which fails to protect women even when their health is at risk or in tragic cases of rape or incest.”