Here’s Interim Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell’s stance on Arizona’s abortion law
PHOENIX — Interim Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell in a press conference on Tuesday gave her stance on a law in Arizona that bans abortions, which took effect after the Supreme Court last week reversed Roe v. Wade.
“There is a law on the books in Arizona that says that abortion is illegal,” Mitchell said.
The law, still on the books from 1901, bans abortion unless it’s necessary to save the mother’s life. Another law set to take effect later this year makes it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion after 15 weeks, with exceptions for the mother’s health, and specifically states it does not repeal the other law.
Mitchell said these will be the laws she’s going to look to for addressing potential abortion cases that come to her office.
“This is an extremely difficult issue, it is extremely emotional on both sides and people feel very strongly about it,” Mitchell said.
“My role is to enforce the law and to look at cases as they come to me and make a decision and follow the ethical charging standard that we apply to every case, which is the reasonable likelihood of conviction.”
The charging standard is what Mitchell referenced when mentioning a potential willingness to not prosecute an abortion case resulting from a sexual assault.
“I’ve prosecuted sex crimes for 25 years, I’ve had a number of victims that have got pregnant either through molest, incest-type situations or just molest situations as well as sexual assault and I am not about the business of revictimizing victims,” Mitchell said.
While neither law allows exceptions in instances of rape or incest, Mitchell said the charging standard requires her to look at what a jury is likely to do in each case and what the sentiment might be.
“I think it is important to use your discretion to look at the individual facts and circumstances of certain cases,” she said.
It was unclear what would be needed for her office to not prosecute the case of an abortion from a sexual assault.
Mitchell said it is a speculative situation as no cases have been submitted to her office and it would be irresponsible to say what she’s going to do or require.
“Every case that I’ve ever looked at in my entire career is different from every other case,” Mitchell said. “If a case comes in, I’m going to look at it, I’m going to look at every part of it before I make a decision on how to act.”