Arizona’s 15-week abortion ban is now in effect, but doctors cannot be charged under an over-100-year-old law that predated statehood and banned virtually all abortions.
The Arizona Court of Appeals handed down this ruling on Friday, clearing the way for the state’s new legislation to take hold. Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich requested that the court allow the pre-statehood ban to be upheld after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
After Roe’s demise, Arizona abortion clinics stopped ending pregnancies until July, when a “personhood” law was rejected by courts. That statute would have given legal rights to unborn children.
In last week’s decision, Judge Garye Vasquez declared that elective abortions will be allowed up to 15 weeks of pregnancy within the confines of the state’s “exacting regulations.”
We are confident Arizona’s pre-Roe law limiting #abortion to cases where the mother’s life is at risk will be upheld by Arizona’s Supreme Court.
— Center for AZ Policy (@azpolicy) December 31, 2022
Interestingly, the Appeals Court declined to repeal the older law but said it will not be enforced against the medical community. Non-health professionals are still subject to the older ban and thus legal punishment, as are professionals who violate the 15-week ban.
That the 15-week ban will actually be enforced, however, is highly questionable.
Democrat Kris Mayes won her race against a GOP challenger to succeed Brnovich as Arizona’s attorney general. She vocally declared that her office will not enforce the new ban, regardless of the court’s decision.
In her race against Republican Abraham Hamadeh, Mayes accused her opponent of planning to target women and doctors for abortion violations. In fact, she declared that Hamadeh “affirmed he will indeed lock up doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc. and punish women for abortion.”
Her opponent called these charges a “blatant misrepresentation.” As Arizona’s attorney general, his constitutional duty would be to uphold the laws of the state, and his campaign said he would carry out that responsibility “regardless of…personal opinion.”
Mayes can hardly say the same.
In a pattern repeated nationwide, Democrats in power consider it their right to simply ignore laws they disagree with. Arizona’s 15-week abortion ban is now in effect, and the duty of state officials — especially the attorney general — is to enforce its statutes.