AZ judge rules state can enforce near-total abortion ban after 1864 law triggered by end of Roe

An Arizona judge has ruled that the state can ban all abortions except those where the life of the mother is at risk following the triggering of an 1864 law after SCOTUS struck down Roe vs. Wade.

(Video Credit: ABC15 Arizona)

The triggered law was in place before Arizona even became a state. It will go into effect on September 24. It had previously been triggered immediately after the Supreme Court ruling on Roe vs. Wade went into effect but an injunction was successfully sought by pro-abortion advocates halting it.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson made the ruling over a month after she heard arguments concerning Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s request to lift the injunction. The decision came a day before a 15-week ban on abortion was slated to go into effect in Arizona.

“The court finds that because the legal basis for the judgment entered in 1973 has now been overruled, it must vacate the judgment in its entirety,” Johnson stated in her ruling, according to KGUN.

“A Pima County judge lifted an injunction that was placed on AZ’s abortion statute. We applaud the court for upholding the will of the legislature and providing clarity and uniformity on this important issue. I have and will continue to protect the most vulnerable Arizonans,” Brnovich tweeted following the decision.

The Arizona Comstock Law, which was named for Christian activist Anthony Comstock, was codified in 1901, nearly 20 years before women were afforded the right to vote in the United States, according to AZ Central. Arizona became a state 110 years ago in 1912.

AZ Central is reporting that numerous individuals, including doctors, were arrested for violations of the law prior to Roe vs. Wade.

Republican Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell is asserting that she will use discretion when prosecuting victims of rape and incest with regard to the newly triggered law.

“I don’t want to revictimize victims,” Mitchell stated, according to KPNX’s Brahm Resnik.

The triggered law was most recently reenacted in the state in 1977. The judge’s ruling means that those seeking an abortion will have to travel to another state to get one.

The ruling is likely to be appealed and it could impact senate and governor’s races with the midterm elections looming.

“Our office has concluded the Legislature has made its intentions clear with regards to abortion laws,” Brnovich tweeted on June 30.

“ARS 13-3603 (the pre-statehood law) is back in effect and will not be repealed,” he added.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that this draconian 1901 law will have dire consequences on the health and well-being of Arizona women and their families,” Democratic gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs said in a statement. “This cruel law effectively outlaws abortion in Arizona — with no exceptions for rape or incest — and risks women’s fundamental freedom to make their own health care decisions. … To make matters worse, this law mandates jail time for abortion providers. Medical professionals will now be forced to think twice and call their lawyer before providing patients with oftentimes necessary, lifesaving care.”

In a statement, Brittany Fonteno, who is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said Friday’s ruling “has the practical and deplorable result of sending Arizonans back nearly 150 years. No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom and how we live our lives today.”

“Make no mistake: this backwards decision exemplifies the disturbing trend across the country of Republican officials at the local and national level dead-set on stripping women of their rights, including through (South Carolina Sen. Lindsey) Graham’s proposed national abortion ban,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

According to The Hill, she called the potential consequences of the ruling “catastrophic, dangerous, and unacceptable.”

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