AG Mark Brnovich, Gov. Doug Ducey at odds over Arizona abortion restrictions

Sep 29, 2022, 2:05 PM | Updated: 4:03 pm
From left, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Gov. Doug Ducey (AP Photos)...
From left, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Gov. Doug Ducey (AP Photos)
(AP Photos)

PHOENIX – Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Gov. Doug Ducey are at odds over how restrictive the state’s abortion laws should be.

Brnovich’s office has been in court defending a near-total abortion ban that originated in 1864 (Section 13-3603 of the Arizona Revised Statues) and was successful in getting a judge to lift an injunction against the law last week.

Planned Parenthood is seeking a stay of the ruling that lifted the injunction and plans to appeal the decision.

Ducey, meanwhile, has been saying the 15-week ban he signed this year is the law.

Brnovich’s office sent Ducey a letter Wednesday saying the governor’s stance was hurting the state’s legal defense of the territorial-era ban, which makes it illegal to provide abortions except to save the mother’s life.

“Comments from the governor are being cited by Planned Parenthood in court to undermine the state’s defense of A.R.S. 13-3603 and to seek a stay of the court’s ruling lifting the prior injunction,” says the letter signed by Brunn Roysden, solicitor general for the Attorney General’s Office.

The letter urges Ducey to submit a brief in the case that clarifies his legal position.

“And we also request that you call a special session of the Arizona Legislature so that legislators may have an opportunity to give additional clarity about our abortion laws based on feedback they may be receiving from their constituents,” the letter says.

Ironically, abortion rights groups have also been urging Ducey to call a special session.

The confusion lies in the fact that the bill signed by Ducey in March, which was scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 24, says it does not: “Repeal, by implication or otherwise, section 13-3603, Arizona Revised Statutes, or any other applicable state law regulating or restricting abortion.”

One thing the competing bans have in common is that the punishments are directed at abortion providers, not the patients.

Until the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade this year, abortion rights were ensured at the federal level.

The 15-week ban was passed before the Supreme Court handed authority over abortion laws to the states on June 24.

State Sen. Nancy Barto, who helped draft this year’s bill, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad Show on June 25 that the intention was to have the near-total ban go into effect if Roe v. Wade were to be overruled.

“We promoted a two-pronged plan to copy the 15-week ban because that would protect many more lives if the Supreme Court simply upheld that law,” Barto said. “Our 15-week bill … had a really important provision in that it made sure that our underlying pre-Roe law that bans most abortions altogether in Arizona … does not get preempted by the 15-week ban.”

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AG Mark Brnovich, Gov. Doug Ducey at odds over Arizona abortion restrictions