State appeals court rules 15-week abortion ban is the law in Arizona
TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5/KOLD News 13) - The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that the state can impose the recent ban on abortion after 15 weeks but cannot impose a near-total abortion ban imposed when the state was a territory. According to the judges’ opinion, reached on Friday, Dec. 30, a licensed physician who performs an elective abortion in conformity with the most recent statute cannot be prosecuted.
The decision comes after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich argued that the near-total abortion ban, imposed before Arizona became a state, should take precedent. That ruling bans all abortions, with the exception of cases where the life of the mother is threatened. The ban would not have made an exception in cases of rape or incest. The opinion states that Arizona’s more recent abortion laws, specifically the 15-week ban, may be read in harmony with the old statute by being understood as a further exception to the general ban on abortion.
Furthermore, the opinion stated, Brnovich’s suggestion that harmonizing the old and new statutes by allowing “prosecutorial discretion” would spark an unconstitutional conflict between the two laws.
Kris Mayes, Arizona’s next attorney general, had a mixed reaction to the ruling. “I agree with the Arizona Court of Appeals ruling today that doctors cannot be prosecuted under an 1864 law for performing abortions in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy,” she said in a statement to Arizona’s Family. “The question about whether the 1864 near-total abortion ban violates the privacy clause of the Arizona Constitution was neither argued nor considered by the Court of Appeals. That will be a question for another day. As your next Attorney General, I vow to continue to fight for reproductive freedom.”
Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs responded to the ruling on social media. In her tweet, she doesn’t say about the details of the ruling, but rather she wants to “ensure women can exercise their constitutional rights” as governor.
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