Arizona Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Abortion Law, Igniting Renewed Debate

PHOENIX, Arizona — The Arizona Supreme Court issued a ruling on Tuesday that allows the state to enforce its previously dormant law criminalizing all abortions, except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk. The court examined the validity of a law that dates back to 1864, long before Arizona became a state. This law prohibits abortion without any exceptions for rape or incest, but it does make an allowance if the mother’s life is in danger.

The recent ruling from the state’s highest court comes after a 2022 decision by the state Court of Appeals, which stated that doctors cannot be charged for performing abortions within the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. However, an older court decision had previously blocked the enforcement of the 1864 law following the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which established a constitutional right to abortion. But with the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich successfully persuaded a state judge to lift the block on enforcing the 1864 law.

Attorney General Kris Mayes, Brnovich’s Democratic successor, had urged the state’s high court to side with the lower Court of Appeals and keep the 1864 law on hold. However, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in line with Brnovich’s argument, allowing the state to enforce the law once again.

The recent decision in Arizona reflects a trend among Republican-controlled states, where many have sought to enforce new bans or restrictions on abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling. On the other hand, Democrat-dominated states have primarily sought to protect abortion access. Currently, 14 states are enforcing bans on abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with some limited exceptions. In two states, the procedure is banned once cardiac activity can be detected, typically around six weeks into pregnancy.

Legal challenges have been brought against nearly every ban or restriction on abortion, resulting in court rulings that have blocked the enforcement of some of these measures. For example, courts have prevented the enforcement of pregnancy bans in Utah and Wyoming.

It is worth noting that there is a proposal pending before the Arizona Legislature that aims to repeal the 1864 law. However, as of now, the proposal has not received a committee hearing this year. Critics of the recent ruling argue that it is regressive and will tarnish the state’s reputation. Attorney General Mayes described the decision as a stain on Arizona’s history, emphasizing that it revives a law from a time when the state did not exist, the Civil War was ongoing, and women did not yet have the right to vote.

The Arizona Supreme Court has granted the state a 14-day period before the enforcement of the law can begin. This ruling has stirred debates around reproductive rights and is likely to have broader implications for the ongoing abortion discourse in the United States.

Note: The article does not cite or mention any news organization specifically.