ARIZONA NEWS

What does Roe v. Wade reversal mean for Arizona abortion law?

Jun 24, 2022, 9:04 AM | Updated: 2:05 pm
Anti-abortion activists react to the 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization whi...
Anti-abortion activists react to the 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization which overturns the landmark abortion Roe v. Wade case in front of the Supreme Court on June 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. The court eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Now that the Supreme Court has put abortion law authority in the hands of the states, what does it mean for Arizona?

With Roe v. Wade reversed, all Arizona abortions might now be outlawed except to save the mother’s life, based on a law enacted more than 100 years ago, before statehood.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office said it’s reviewing Friday’s Supreme Court decision and called it a “developing situation.”

For now, it remains unclear whether a law signed earlier this year but not yet in effect will add an exclusion for abortions up to 15 weeks of gestation.

“The Attorney General’s Office may be called upon by public officials to provide formal opinions on some of these topics, and I don’t want to get out in front of that process,” Brittni Thomason, a spokeswoman for the office, said in a statement to KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Multiple Arizona providers have announced they are suspending all abortion procedures.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill this legislative session that makes it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion after 15 weeks, with exceptions for the health of the mother. That law will go into effect 90 days after the current session closes, which could happen at any time now that lawmakers have completed the state budget.

However, the new law specifically says it does not repeal a 1901 law still on the books that makes performing any abortion illegal unless it’s necessary to save the mother’s life.

Which law will take precedence?

“Well, it depends on who you talk to,” Phoenix attorney Barry Markson told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Friday, shortly after the nation’s high court reversed the 1973 ruling that had ensured federal abortion protections.

Arizona’s new 15-week law mirrors Dobbs v. Jackson, the Mississippi law that was the basis of the Supreme Court’s ruling Friday.

It has an exception for cases when the mother is at risk of death or serious permanent injury, but not for instances of rape or incest. The mother can’t be prosecuted under the law, but the doctor faces potential felony charges and loss of licensure.

“I know the governor and other people think that’s the current law in Arizona,” Markson said.

However, the wording of the new legislation seems to indicate that lawmakers intended to keep the 1901 ban in place.

The pending statute states it does not, “Repeal, by implication or otherwise, section 13-3603, Arizona Revised Statutes, or any other applicable state law regulating or restricting abortion.”

ARS 13-3603 reads as follows:

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.

The Arizona Senate Republican Caucus sent out a press release saying abortions are now illegal in the state, except when the mother’s life is at risk, until the new the 15-week law takes effect. The release does not address the issue of the new law saying it does not repeal the old one.

Markson said the Republican-led Legislature could work on more restrictive abortion legislation that would clear up any confusion.

“I expect we’re going to see the Legislature very soon, because they’re still in session, pass a new law that bans abortion in Arizona,” he said.

“The question will be whether it has exceptions for the health of the mother or for rape and incest.”

Abortion-rights supporters have launched a long-shot bid to enshrine the right to abortion in the Arizona Constitution. Rolled out weeks after the draft U.S. Supreme Court decision showing Roe could be overturned was leaked, backers must collect more than 356,000 signatures by July 7 to get the initiative on the November ballot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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What does Roe v. Wade reversal mean for Arizona abortion law?