Arizona agrees not to implement total abortion ban until 2023
On Thursday, Planned Parenthood said services would resume statewide, including clinics in Metro Phoenix and Flagstaff.
“As we celebrate today, we cannot ignore that we are still on a long and uncertain journey to restore the fundamental right to abortion in Arizona and make this essential health care truly accessible and equitable for all,” Brittany Fonteno, who runs Planned Parenthood Arizona, said at a press conference. “Although abortion is currently legal in Arizona and we have resumed abortion care statewide, we know this could very well be temporary.”
The only exception to the law is if the mother’s life is in danger. The law banning prestate abortion had been stalled since Roe’s ruling in 1973, but Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked a Tucson court to allow it to be implemented this summer. The law dating from 1864 is punishable by a prison sentence of two to five years.
After the Tucson judge agreed with Brnovich, the appeals court temporarily overturned it and set a timeline for Planned Parenthood and attorneys from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to file their legal briefs in call. These documents are due before the November 17 deadline.
Meanwhile, a Phoenix doctor who runs a clinic that offers abortions and the Arizona Medical Association filed a separate lawsuit seeking to block the territorial-era law, arguing that laws enacted by the Legislature after the Roe v. Wade from 1973 should prevail. and abortions should be allowed up to 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The lawsuit brought by a Phoenix abortion doctor and the Arizona Medical Association repeated many of the arguments made by Planned Parenthood in their unsuccessful effort last month to persuade the Tucson judge to keep a 50-year injunction in place. prohibiting the application of the old law. . The judge said it was not procedurally appropriate for her to try to reconcile 50 years of newer law with the old law.
Brnovich sought to stay that lawsuit until the appeals court decides the Planned Parenthood case. In a deal with abortion rights groups, he agreed not to enforce the old law until at least 45 days after a final decision in the original case.
Any decision of the appeals court will certainly be appealed to the state Supreme Court, so any final decision could take until 2023.
A law enacted by the Legislature this year limits abortions to 15 weeks of pregnancy, well ahead of the 24 weeks generally allowed under the Roe decision that was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.
Arizona women seeking abortions have been harmed by competing state laws since the High Court ruling. A “personality” law is also in play that has suppliers fearing they could face charges under the law before a federal judge blocked it in July.
Abortion providers halted all care in the state after Roe’s cancellation, restarted in mid-July after the personality law was blocked, and halted again when the Tucson judge cleared application of the law of 1864.