Arizona is officially an abortion desert after Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson allowed a 158-year-old near-total abortion ban to take effect. The 1864 law — passed before Arizona was even officially a state — bans abortion except to save the life of the pregnant person and mandates two to five years of prison time for people who provide abortions.
“The law has not been in effect since 1973, when the Arizona Court of Appeals placed an injunction on the law following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, which protected the constitutional right to abortion.”
— Brahm Resnik (@brahmresnik) September 23, 2022
After the Republican-packed Supreme Court overturned the five decades old landmark decision, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a motion in Pima County Superior Court, where the injunction originated, requesting that a judge allow the ban to once again stand as law.
”Many health care clinics stopped providing abortions for a time due to the lack of clarity about the legality of abortion in Arizona.”
The ban has caused concern within abortion rights groups and among reproductive healthcare choice advocates who fear the law will be used to criminalize those assisting women seeking abortions — including anyone assisting with paying for the procedure.
“Competing abortion laws and misinformation from Republican lawmakers caused chaos in Arizona in the months following the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe. Immediately afterward.”
The 19th-century law states:
“A person who provides, supplies or administers to a pregnant woman, or procures such woman to take any medicine, drugs or substance, or uses or employs any instrument or other means whatever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of such woman, unless it is necessary to save her life, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than two years nor more than five years.”
“Eloisa Lopez, executive director of the Abortion Fund of Arizona, told the Arizona Agenda in August that she worries prosecutors could even use the 1864 ban to criminally charge people for providing financial assistance for abortions or driving people to their appointments,” The Appeal reported.
$40,000 has been spent assisting women to get abortions since the overturning of Roe – including transportation, lodging, and childcare.
This law will negatively impact women and girls in Arizona — with women of color and low-income women bearing the brunt of the archaic legislation.
Jennifer Allen, executive director for the ACLU of Arizona said:
“Today’s ruling is a devastating decision and marks a dark day in Arizona’s history. No one should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against their will. By allowing this archaic law to go into effect, Arizona has put the lives of pregnant people at risk and will send doctors to prison for doing what’s best for their patient.”
Arizonans seeking a safe and legal abortion have already had to travel across state lines to either California or New Mexico. With recent reports that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wants to enact a national ban, that prospect should frighten us all.
Reproductive healthcare, liberty, and freedom are on the ballot in November. Vote accordingly!
Original reporting by Meg O’Connor at The Appeal.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick