PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona judge will hear arguments Friday on the state’s request to allow prosecutors to enforce a near-total ban on abortions under a law that has been blocked for nearly 50 years under a US Supreme Court ruling now overturned.
Abortion rights advocates are fighting Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s request to lift an injunction blocking enforcement of the abortion ban unless the mother’s life is in danger. That law was first enacted decades before Arizona was granted statehood in 1912 and was blocked following the US Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Arizona. Wade who legalized abortion.
Providers across Arizona stopped abortions after the The June 24 Supreme Court opinion that struck down Roe, saying it was too risky to go ahead with the old ban still in place and a 2021 law giving unborn children full rights in the game as well. A federal judge blocked an important part of that law on July 11.but providers have not restarted abortion services.
Brnovich said two days after the “personality” law was blocked that would formally seek to lift the 1973 court order that blocked the long-standing abortion ban. He had said shortly after the Supreme Court decision that he believed the ban applied,
Lawyers representing Planned Parenthood and its Arizona affiliate argue that a host of laws restricting and regulating abortion enacted by the state Legislature since Roe was decided would be meaningless if the court allowed the old law to apply.
They point out that this year alone, the Legislature passed a law signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey that criminalizes performing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Ducey maintains that the new law he signed takes precedence over the pre-statehood law.
Planned Parenthood attorneys are urging the judge in Tucson, where the case originated in 1971, to “harmonize” the old and newer laws by allowing existing restrictions and the 15-week ban to apply to doctors, while that non-physicians would be subject to the outright ban.
Failure to do so, Planned Parenthood’s attorneys wrote in court papers, “would in one fell swoop nullify dozens of more recently passed, duly enacted laws that deal more specifically with the issue, thereby preventing the State from taking all actions “. its laws duly enacted.
Lawyers for the attorney general’s office say the argument is falling apart quickly. That’s because “in anticipation that the US Supreme Court might strike down Roe, the Legislature has repeatedly upheld Arizona’s statutory ban on performing abortions, except to save the life of the mother.”
They pointed out that the 15-week ban Ducey signed expressly stated that it did not repeal the previous law.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson will hear arguments on Brnovich’s request to lift the 1973 injunction Friday afternoon.
The case originated in 1971 when Planned Parenthood’s Tucson affiliate, several doctors and a woman seeking an abortion sued to strike down the law. A Pima County trial judge ruled the following year that a fetus has no constitutionally protected rights and that the law banning abortion also violated doctors’ rights to practice medicine as they saw fit.
The Arizona Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, completely rejecting the lower court’s reasoning that the abortion ban was unconstitutional and saying it was enforceable.
“Appellees’ complaints against abortion statutes are peculiarly within the realm occupied by the Legislature and any issue related to abortion must be resolved by that body,” the appeals court ruling said. “We can only reiterate that we are not a super legislature.”
Less than three weeks later, the US Supreme Court ruled in Roe, and the appeals court reversed its earlier ruling. The law was then permanently blocked.
At a roundtable discussion with US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in Phoenix on Thursday, Planned Parenthood Arizona and CEP President Brittany Fonteno said the group would go back to providing abortions if the judge rules. in his favor.
“What we’re really looking for is that clarity, because we have to think about our suppliers,” Fonteno said.