Court halts Arizona’s near-total abortion ban; 15-week abortion law still in effect
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A three-judge panel halted Arizona’s near-total abortion ban Friday afternoon. This comes after Planned Parenthood of Arizona appealed a Pima County judge’s ruling that allowed prosecutors to enforce the Civil War-era law banning abortion in nearly all cases, except when the mother’s life was at risk. This new ruling blocks enforcement of the ban, allowing abortion care to resume in the state effective immediately. However, the ruling doesn’t impact the new state law signed by Gov. Doug Ducey banning abortions after 15 weeks, which went into effect this month.
The appeals court set a hearing for next week to consider whether to set an expedited schedule for hearing Planned Parenthood’s full appeal.
Many providers are breathing a sigh of relief, but say the fight isn’t over. “While today’s ruling brings temporary respite to Arizonans, the ongoing threat of this extreme, near-total abortion ban that has no regard for the health care of those across the state, including survivors of rape or incest remains very real,” said Brittany Fonteno, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona.
The Supreme Court overruled Roe in June, and Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich then asked that the injunction blocking enforcement of the pre-statehood abortion be lifted. Pima Court Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson agreed on Sept. 23 and lifted the order two weeks ago.
Providers across the state stopped abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court decision, but many restarted procedures in mid-summer. That came after a federal judge blocked a separate “personhood” law they worried would allow criminal charges against doctors and nurses. They halted again after Johnson’s ruling.
Previously, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said she wouldn’t prosecute women who seek an abortion but did not give a response about prosecuting cases against doctors. Her opponent, Julie Gunnigle, has been vocal about not prosecuting women, no matter the law in Arizona.
“Today’s decision provides a desperately needed sense of security for both our patients and providers,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
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