Arizona appeals court blocks enforcement of abortion ban

News & Politics

On Friday, an Arizona appeals court ruled with Planned Parenthood to halt the enforcement of a statewide abortion ban. The decision means that abortions up to 15 weeks are temporarily legal in the state.

Last month, Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson lifted a 1973 injunction against a 1901 law that banned abortion in Arizona. The September ruling paused abortion statewide in nearly all cases, except when the mother’s life was at risk.

Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who pushed for the judge’s ruling to lift the injunction, applauded the decision.

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

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Pro-abortion advocates criticized the judge for reinstating “a Civil War-era law” created before Arizona became a state.

Planned Parenthood of Arizona requested an appeal of Johnson’s ruling, arguing that the judge should have considered the many laws restricting and regulating abortion that have been passed since the injunction. Sarah Mac Dougall, an attorney for the organization, stated that the 1901 law should be limited so it does not conflict with laws passed after it.

The Arizona Court of Appeals judges agreed with Planned Parenthood. Presiding Judge Peter J. Eckerstrom wrote, “Arizona courts have a responsibility to attempt to harmonize all of this state’s relevant statutes.”

“Today’s decision provides a desperately needed sense of security for both our patients and providers,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “We can now breathe a sigh of relief and serve patients. While the fight isn’t over, for now, Arizonans will once again be able to make their own decisions about their bodies, health care decisions, and futures.”

Last month, a 15-week abortion ban went into effect in Arizona. The law was signed by Governor Doug Ducey in March, who said that the ban takes precedence and will not be impacted by the court’s Friday decision. Before the 15-week law, abortion was legal in Arizona up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ yearly reports, the 15-week ban would impact only 5% of abortions performed in the state. The past three yearly reports showed that there are approximately 13,000 abortions performed statewide each year.

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