PHOENIX (AP) — The leader of Arizona’s largest abortion provider said Tuesday her organization will not resume the procedures in one county even though a federal judge has blocked a fetal “personhood” law they feared could lead to criminal charges against doctors and others.
Brittany Fonteno, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, blamed “vague and confusing” statements from Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich about a near-total pre-statehood ban on abortions for the decision.
That law has been on the books since at least 1901 but has been blocked since shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. That injunction covers Pima County, home to Tucson, and the attorney general, so the judge’s decision on the personhood law left open the possibility they would resume in Tucson.
The high court overturned Roe last month, saying women do not have a constitutional right to abortion, allowing states to limit or even ban all abortions.
Brnovich announced last month the pre-1901 law was enforceable and that his office would seek to have that injunction lifted, although it has not yet done so.
The medical director of the second large abortion provider in Tucson did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Choices Women’s Center, like other Arizona providers, stopped abortion care after the Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling.
The other major issue worrying providers was a 2021 so-called “personhood” law that grants all rights to pre-born children. Providers worried that the state could bring criminal charges against doctors and others for otherwise legal abortions, and asked a federal judge last month to block it as unconstitutionally vague.
U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes did just that on Monday, saying in a written ruling that the groups that sued to block the law are right — it is “anyone’s guess,” as the state acknowledged, what criminal laws abortion providers may be breaking if they perform otherwise-legal abortions.