Arizona Abortions Laws
Reproductive Rights and Justice

Arizona Abortions Laws: Looking To A Dangerous Past

The restarting of a nearly 100-year-old abortion law across the State of Arizona has sent shockwaves across the nation, as Republicans in the judicial and political spheres appear to double down on the dated piece of legislation.

Fourteen states across the USA, in all pregnancy stages, have abortion bans in force.


The curtailment of reproductive rights has been swift and malicious, especially since the fall of Roe V. Wade.


Every day, Republicans tightened the screws further and further, passing archaic pieces of legislation across the nation, all in an attempt to restrict people’s bodily autonomy. 


They purport to be pro-life, however, their actions fly in the face of science and compassion, with their legislation only serving to cause harm and suffering.  


What’s more, not thinking that it was even possible, the State of Arizona has recently just shown the contempt they have for those who wish to exercise their bodily autonomy and live in safety and security. 


Read: Texas Abortion Law: Women’s Rights Are Under Attack, Again



Nothing Short of Archaic 

On Tuesday 9th April, a long-shelved law that halts nearly all forms of abortion was green-lit by the Arizona Supreme Court.  


What’s more, Arizona’s top court appeared to suggest that doctors may be prosecuted under the 1864 law, although the opinion penned by the court’s majority failed to explicitly state this.


Instead, the ruling termed it as such;

“In light of this Opinion, physicians are now on notice that all abortions, except those necessary to save a woman’s life, are illegal,” 


The decision discarded an earlier lower court ruling that proclaimed doctors were not able to be charged, within a pregnancy’s first 15 weeks, for carrying out an abortion. 


Read: A Leap Backwards in Time

What is the Law?

Originating before Arizona’s statehood, February 14. 1912, the law permits no expectations for incest and rape, allowing abortion to only occur in instances where the mother’s life is in danger.


Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, the Civil War-era law had been blocked.


The Law calls for the prosecution of;

“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.”


Upon conviction, the law’s sentencing ranges from two to five years of incarceration. 


Imprisonment may not solely be for medical professionals as Planned Parenthood Lawyers stated that, in addition to doctors being in the firing line, penalties apply to those parties procuring abortion medication. 


The most common method of termination employed in the USA.


Read: The War Waged on Florida’s Abortion Rights: A Silver Lining


In other locations that have abortion bans, certain women have accessed pills from underground networks and medical providers telehealth services in states that possess laws that safeguard prescribers from out-of-state prosecutions. 


Although, in Arizona, this was already illegal according to the Attorney General’s office.


The sentiment of danger for abortion pill procurers was echoed by an Ohio-based OB-GYN, Dr. Maria Phillis, who retains a law degree and believes that women who gain access to pills through such means may be prosecuted under the 1864 law. 


How Did We Get Here? 

Subsequent to the June 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade, Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich convinced a state judge to remove an injunction that stopped the 1864 ban’s enforcement.


Following this, the law was suspended by the then Court of Appeals as Brnovich’s successor, Democrat Attorney General Kris Mayes requested that the appellate court’s decision be maintained by the State’s high court.


In 2016 the court itself was expanded to seven justices from five, all of whom were appointed by governors who were Republican.


Read: Fake Abortion Care – an Issue That Extends Across the Pond and Calls for Global Action

Moving Forward

From the Arizona court’s decision date, the parties were given two weeks to decide whether or not to lodge legal claims.


Enforcement of the law, at least according to the high court, would occur two from the decision’s date. 


On the other hand, plaintiffs claim it could be up to 8 weeks, due to an agreement in a related case to slow the enforcement of said law in the instance that the justices stood by the pre-statehood ban.


In the political sphere, Governor Katie Hobbs had requested that the State Legislature immediately move to undo the law before it came into force. 


She stated that; 

“They could gavel in today and make a motion to repeal this ban… And they should do that. I’m hopeful that they will because this will have devastating consequences for Arizona.”


However, GOP lawmakers curtailed an attempt to force such a measure’s vote on Wednesday.  


Read:  US Abortion Rights: Republicans Reject Reason & Embrace Hypocrisy


Gave impact & Potential Avenue of Hope 

The drastic impact of such a ban can be seen in the numbers, as it is estimated by a Society of Family Planning survey that Arizona is home to around 1,100 safe monthly abortions.


I use the term safe as those unable to access such services, as history has shown, will utilize the methods of unsafe practices for termination, as opposed to stop seeking one, thereby endangering people’s lives and bodies.


Although, voters may be able to have their say in the matter in November. 


This is because abortion rights advocates state that they, as of writing, have more than enough signatures necessary to add a ballot question, for voters to be asked to approve a constitutional amendment safeguarding abortion rights until when a fetus can live outside of the womb, the point of viability. However, later-term abortions would be admitted in order to protect a woman’s mental or physical health.


It is clear that conservatives and those in positions of political and judicial power within Arizona care little for people’s health and safety, only solely for scoring political points with fanatics.


Whatever the future holds for the state, and the nation as a whole, it can be acknowledged that the country’s Puritan roots, which permeate the very foundations of the nation, have now sprung forth with branches that loom over nearly every branch of government. 



Image Credit: Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash


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