AZ Supreme Court Cites 160-Year-Old Law To Uphold Major Abortion Ban

New Africa /
New Africa /

On April 9th, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that a 160-year-old law that banned all abortions except to save the life of the mother was still the law of the land. In this law, abortionists were to receive two-to-five-year sentences for providing them. Initially hearing arguments from Planned Parenthood of Arizona v. Mayes/Hazerigg, in December 2023, they were asked about AZ’s 15-week abortion limit that was signed into law back in March 2022. Planned Parenthood said this overrode the previous law.

With a 4-2 ruling, they decided that the law from 1864 law trumped the newer law. Justice John Lopez wrote the majority opinion, and he made it clear that this was a complicated case.

“We consider whether the Arizona Legislature repealed or otherwise restricted [the old law] by enacting…the statute proscribing physicians from performing elective abortions after fifteen weeks’ gestation. This case involves statutory interpretation—it does not rest on the justices’ morals or public policy views regarding abortion; nor does it rest on [the old law’s] constitutionality, which is not before us. Absent the federal constitutional abortion right, and because [the fifteen-week limit] does not independently authorize abortion, there is no provision in federal or state law prohibiting [the 1864 law’s] operation. Accordingly, [the 1864 law] is now enforceable.”

Affirming a lower court’s decision essentially, they are permitting a 14-day reset period, so both parties can decide on what to do from here before enforcing the law. With pro-abortion groups pushing to ratify abortion into the Arizona constitution, this ruling could essentially be for null.

Ran by a group called “Arizona for Abortion Access,” they are comprised of reps from some of the biggest liberal groups in the state. ACLU of Arizona, Affirm Sexual and Reproductive Health, Arizona List, Healthcare Rising Arizona, NARAL Arizona, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona gathered signatures for the effort. Claiming they have over 500k signatures, well over the 328,923 for the amendment to make the ballot in November, they may decide to put all their eggs in that basket.