Maricopa County attorney says law making abortion illegal could be in effect

Several Arizona doctors say it has been frustrating for staff and patients as they continue looking for clarification on abortion rights in Arizona.
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 9:50 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Maricopa County’s top prosecutor publicly said for the first time that abortion could be illegal in Arizona right now, pointing to a 120-year-old territorial law on the books. “There is clearly a law on the books in Arizona that prohibits providers from providing an abortion,” said interim Maricopa County attorney Rachel Mitchell.

That law makes all abortions illegal except in cases where the mother’s health is at risk. In March, the Republican-backed state legislature passed another bill that bans abortions past 15 weeks. That law may take effect in three months. According to Mitchell, the territorial law takes precedence until then. However, she didn’t have a clear answer when pressed on whether providers would be prosecuted if they performed abortions.

“At this point, I am not going to try to enforce a law to prosecute a case that is not before me. We don’t have any submittals to this County Attorney’s Office at this point,” said Mitchell.

It is important to note that most abortion providers in Arizona have halted the procedure until they get more clarification.