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Arizona Supreme Court rules on near-total abortion ban, Planned Parenthood and lawmakers react

PHOENIX (KYMA, KECY/NBC) - The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that all abortions should be banned by reinstating the 1864 near-total abortion ban.

According to a press release, the near-total abortion ban punishes doctors with two to five years in prison for providing abortion services.

According to NBC News, the ban was codified in 1901, and again in 1913, to include an exception to save the woman's life.

Planned Parenthood Arizona said, in a press release, that although the ruling will be enforced, abortion is still accessible in the state for a limited period of time.

The organization also announced it will continue to provide abortion services through 15 weeks for a short time.

This is due to a separate lawsuit that was filed in October 2022 on behalf of a Phoenix doctor and the Arizona Medical Association.

The Maricopa County Superior Court entered an order under which the state is barred from enforcing the near-total abortion ban until 45 days after the state Supreme Court issues its mandate in the Mayes case, said Planned Parenthood Arizona.

Planned Parenthood Arizona said the mandate won't issue for at least several weeks which allows the organization to continue to provide abortions through 15 weeks for a short time.

Abortion rights advocates say they will fight the ruling at the ballot box.

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, Angela Florez issued a statement on the ruling.

"Today’s deplorable decision sends Arizona back nearly 150 years. We know that today’s ruling does not reflect the will of the people, as Arizonans are overwhelmingly in favor of abortion access. Instead, it is the latest card in anti-abortion extremists’ deck of cruel and harmful tactics to strip Arizonans of their right to live under a rule of law that respects our bodily autonomy and reproductive decisions. It is unfortunate and unacceptable that Arizonans cannot even depend on our Supreme Court to look past personal ideology and impartially apply the law. 

We know that abortion bans, including this one from the Civil War-era, are rooted in America’s legacy of racism and discrimination. This near-total abortion ban will be catastrophic for patient care and will have the greatest impact on Black, Indigenous, Latino, and other people of color, young people, LGBTQ+ people, and undocumented people. 

Let me be clear, this is not the end of our fight. This law has no place in Arizona. While today we feel frustrated and dismayed with the Court for stripping our legal right to essential health care, we must harness our anger and take action. We must spread the word and urge our lawmakers to support reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy."

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona Angela Florez

Chief Medical Officer at Planned Parenthood Arizona, Dr. Jill Gibson also issued a statement on the ruling.

"Today is a dark day for Arizona. As a doctor, I know first-hand that abortion bans and criminalizing abortion do not reduce the very real need and demand for this essential health care. Instead, bans force people to carry unwanted pregnancies, seek abortion outside of the health care system, or bear the financial burden of traveling hundreds or thousands of miles for care – which is simply not possible for many Arizonans.

I took an oath as a physician to provide nonjudgmental, safe, compassionate and evidence-based care for my patients. And to soon not be able to provide my patients with that care is completely unacceptable and antithetical to my medical obligations and unfair and unjust to our community.

This case will not be the last attempt by anti-abortion activists to roll back rights. While our Legislature and our courts have failed us, Planned Parenthood Arizona will keep fighting."

Chief Medical Officer at Planned Parenthood Arizona Dr. Jill Gibson

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Alexis McGill Johnson also gave a statement on the ban.

"Today’s decision to allow Arizona’s archaic, near-total abortion ban to be enforced is devastating for reproductive freedom. People across the state have lost the freedom to decide what is best for their bodies and lives, without government interference. We have already seen the effect of similar bans in states like Texas and Oklahoma, where some patients have been unable to get care even when their lives are at risk and health care providers fear criminalization. This is untenable, and it is not what the majority of Arizonans want. For Arizonans, the government doesn’t belong in their personal reproductive health decisions. Our movement is strong, and Planned Parenthood will continue fighting alongside Arizonans to ensure that everyone can make decisions about their health and lives."

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Alexis McGill Johnson

During the press conference, Governor Katie Hobbs (D-Ariz.) called it a "dark day" for the state of Arizona.

"Let me be clear, Arizona's 2022 abortion ban is extreme and hurts women and the near total Civil War era ban that continues to hang over our heads only serves to create more chaos for women and doctors in our state.

I am calling on the legislature to do the right thing right now and repeal this 1864 ban and protect access to reproductive healthcare."

Governor Katie Hobbs

Senator Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) shared in a statement how the decision has set women's rights back two centuries.

"This backwards law may have been written 160 years ago, but it's going to be reinstated because of politicians who worked to overturn Roe v. Wade and its protections for abortion rights. I know this is a difficult day for so many Arizonans, and trust that I’m going to fight as hard as ever to restore reproductive rights so that Arizona women can once again make these decisions for themselves.”  

“This disastrous decision sets women’s rights in our state back two centuries and means that Arizona women have now lost the right to an abortion. It will criminalize doctors for doing their jobs providing the most appropriate care to patients, which will undoubtedly have a devastating effect on the health and freedom of Arizona women and families. And it’s just not who we are as Arizonans."

Senator Mark Kelly

Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) also shared her reaction to the near-total abortion ban ruling.

"A woman’s health care choices should be between her, her family, and her doctor. Today’s decision by the Arizona Supreme Court endangers women’s health, safety, and well-being.

Arizonans should not be forced to travel out of state just to receive basic, sometimes even life-saving, health care.  Doctors and hospitals should not be punished for providing health care to their patients. Throughout my over 20 years of public service I’ve always supported women’s access to reproductive care, and I will work with anyone to protect Arizona women’s ability to make their own decisions about their futures."

Senator Kyrsten Sinema

Representative Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) also shared his reaction to the near-total abortion ban ruling.

"The Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling is a cruel and regressive decision that is part of the national assault by Republicans to ban and criminalize abortion nationwide. It underscores the importance of the upcoming election in November that will determine the future of reproductive rights in our state and across the country.”

I applaud Attorney General Mayes’ commitment not to prosecute under alaw from a time when Arizona was not even a state and women did not have the right to vote. I call for the Arizona legislature to permanently codify and safeguard the right to access affordable, comprehensive abortion care, and contraceptives for Arizonans without delay.

I will continue to push and support legislation in Congress, including the Women’s Health Protection Act, to protect the right to abortion throughout the United States, block the barrage of state bans and restrictions on abortion, and overturn Dobbs v. Jackson to ensure a person’s freedom to make decisions about their own reproductive health care is between them and a health care provider – not the government."

Rep. Raul Grijalva

Former Governor Doug Ducey (R-Arizona) also posted on "X" about the ruling.

"I signed the 15-week law as Governor because it is thoughtful conservative policy, and an approach to this very sensitive issue that Arizonans can actually agree on. The ruling today is not the outcome I would have preferred, and I call on our elected leaders to heed the will of the people and address this issue with a policy that is workable and reflective of our electorate."

Former Arizona Governor Doug Ducey

House Democratic Whips Nancy Gutierrez and Melody Hernandez issued statements sharing their thoughts on the ruling.

"The Arizona Supreme Court chose chaos over reason and common sense today. This is outrageous, extreme and devastating because we know Arizonans overwhelmingly support the right to obtain an abortion and other reproductive healthcare. We must take immediate steps to repeal this archaic and cruel law, and to expand our rights. Our caucus stands with the vast majority of Arizonans who support these basic rights, and we won't stop fighting to expand them."

Nancy Gutierrez, House Democratic Whip

"Women will die if this law stands and medical professionals could be jailed. That is unimaginable, it is not supported by our constituents and it cannot be allowed to stand. Every Republican in the Legislature supported this total abortion ban passed during the Civil War, decades before we even became a state and women gained the right to vote. We know this because the Speaker and Senate President submitted an amicus brief on their behalf asking for exactly that result. We hope they will acknowledge their mistake and work with us to repeal this law before anyone is harmed."

Melody Hernandez, House Democratic Whip

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Heather Williams said in a statement that the ban is an archaic and dangerous law from 1864.

"Today is a very dark day for Arizona. An archaic, dangerous law from 1864 that bans abortion across the board is completely out of touch with reality and where Arizona communities are today. Republicans in Arizona’s legislature already passed an egregiously restrictive abortion ban, which has put women’s lives in danger and criminalized abortion providers. Make no mistake: reinstating the 1864 law will have deadly consequences. Today’s ruling heightens the stakes of the 2024 elections - it has never been more important to elect champions of reproductive freedoms to the state legislatures to balance the extremism of the court. We are just a handful of seats away from flipping each chamber of the Arizona state legislature, which would dramatically transform the landscape of power and freedoms in the state, and allow Democrats to protect Arizonans’ abortion rights. Abortion is on the ballot, and Arizona is one of the most important battlegrounds in 2024."

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Heather Williams

The League of Women Voters of Arizona issued a statement on the Arizona Supreme Court ruling saying:

"Today’s decision is a tragic setback for Arizona’s women and all Arizonans who can become pregnant. The court’s decision strips away the right of women and those who can become pregnant to control their bodies. It is unfathomable that not a single woman in Arizona ever voted on this ban in 1864, and because of this decision, women and those who may become pregnant have lost the right to reproductive freedom in Arizona. When women and those who can become pregnant can no longer make reproductive decisions for their own bodies, they are no longer equal individuals in our democracy.

The League of Women Voters of Arizona will continue to fight for reproductive freedom for all Arizonans and stand in our power with our reproductive rights partners and all persons who fear the dangerous consequences of this decision. We call on all Arizona voters who believe in reproductive freedom to respond to this decision by signing the petition to amend the state constitution in November and enshrine abortion rights. Women and those who can become pregnant have the power to make their voices heard and fight back."

Chris Love with Arizona for Abortion Access also shared her thoughts during a separate press conference.

"And today is our worst nightmare, right, I think that even after today if we don't get protections for abortion enshrined in our Constitution, that leaves the question open to our very anti extremist legislature."

Chris Love, Arizona for Abortion Access

Dr. Denise Link, nurse practitioner in women's health, shared her thoughts on the ruling saying, "The decision today by the Arizona Supreme Court is completely out of balance."

Jared Keenan, Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona, shared in a statement that Arizonans deserve the right to make personal decisions about their reproductive healthcare.

"Today’s shameful decision to allow an antiquated and dangerous near-total abortion ban to be enforced will have tragic consequences for Arizonans and their families. Arizonans deserve the right to make personal decisions about their reproductive health care, free from government interference. We are devastated by today’s ruling but we remain committed to defending reproductive freedom in the courts, at the legislature, as well as in communities across the state towards the passage of the Arizona for Abortion Access Act this November. The urgency to enshrine the right to abortion in our state’s constitution has never been more necessary."

Jared Keenan, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona

Following the ruling, President Joe Biden issued a statement weighing in on the decision.

"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. This cruel ban was first enacted in 1864 more than 150 years ago, before Arizona was even a state and well before women had secured the right to vote. This ruling is a result of the extreme agenda of Republican elected officials who are committed to ripping away women's freedom. Vice President Harris and I stand with the vast majority of Americans who support a woman's right to choose. We will continue to fight to protect reproductive rights and call on Congress to pass a law restoring the protections of Roe v. Wade for women in every state."

President Joe Biden

Vice President Kamala Harris issued a statement sharing her thoughts on the ruling.

"Arizona just rolled back the clock to a time before women could vote – and, by his own admission, there’s one person responsible: Donald Trump.

This even more extreme and dangerous ban criminalizes almost all abortion care in the state and puts women’s lives at risk. It provides no exceptions for rape, incest, or health. It’s a reality because of Donald Trump, who brags about being ‘proudly the person responsible’ for overturning Roe v. Wade, and made it possible for states to enforce cruel bans.

The alarm is sounding for every woman in America: if he has the opportunity, Donald Trump would sign off on a national abortion ban. He has called for punishing women and doctors. If he wins, he and his allies have plans to ban abortion and restrict access to birth control, with or without Congress. It’s terrifying, but we are not powerless. President Biden and I are doing everything in our power to stop Trump and restore women's reproductive freedom, but it is going to take all of us. The American people believe that health care decisions should be made between women and their doctors, not politicians, and we are ready to stand up to fight for our most fundamental freedoms."

Vice President Kamala Harris

It was also announced that Harris will go to Tucson, Arizona to continue her leadership in the fight for reproductive freedoms on Friday, April 12.

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs held a press conference Tuesday morning along with other state lawmakers discussing the future of reproductive freedom.

Article Topic Follows: Arizona Politics

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