Planned Parenthood resumes abortion services at all Arizona facilities
PHOENIX – Planned Parenthood said Thursday it was resuming abortion services at all of its Arizona facilities while the issue works its way through the courts.
“I’m thrilled today to be able to share with you that Planned Parenthood Arizona has officially resumed abortion care in our health centers across the state,” Brittany Fonteno, Planned Parenthood Arizona president and CEO, said during a press conference outside the organization’s Tempe center.
Planned Parenthood had previously resumed abortions only at its Southern Arizona Regional Health Center in Tucson. The provider said it is abiding by the 15-week state law that was passed this year.
Thursday’s announcement came three weeks after the Arizona Court of Appeals granted Planned Parenthood’s request for a stay of a lower court ruling that allowed enforcement of a near-total abortion ban that originated before Arizona was a state. A final appeals court ruling is pending, and that decision could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
“We know that this may very well be temporary,” Fonteno said. “In court we continue to oppose extremist anti-abortion politicians who are working overtime to continue to stir chaos and confusion and put politics over patients.”
On Oct. 7, a three-judge appeals court panel agreed with Planned Parenthood that a judge in Tucson should not have lifted the decades-old order that prevented the older law from being imposed.
The brief order written by Presiding Judge Peter J. Eckerstrom said Planned Parenthood and its Arizona affiliate had shown they are likely to prevail on an appeal of the Sept. 23 decision by Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson to allow enforcement of the old law.
Planned Parenthood had argued that Johnson should have considered a host of laws restricting abortions passed since the original injunction was put in place following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that said women have a constitutional right to an abortion.
Those laws include a new one blocking abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy that took effect last month. The previous limit was 24 weeks, the viability standard established by now-overruled U.S. Supreme Court cases.
“This is a truly a pivotal moment for Arizonans who are no living in a post-Roe world,” Fonteno said. “While we are celebrating today, we cannot ignore that we are still on a long and uncertain path to restoring the fundamental right to abortion in Arizona and making this essential health care truly accessible and equitable for all people.”
The U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe in June, and Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich then asked that the injunction blocking enforcement of the pre-statehood ban be lifted. The injunction had been issued in 1973, shortly after Roe was decided.
Language in the new 15-week ban said it does not repeal the pre-statehood law, and Brnovich and some Republican lawmakers have insisted the old law takes precedence. It contains an exception if the life of the mother is at risk, but not for rape or incest. Doctors, but not patients, are subject to prosecution under the law.
Fonteno told KTAR News 92.3 FM in a separate interview that Planned Parenthood has had a hard time retaining staff since the injunction was lifted, which is a reason it took several weeks to resume abortions statewide.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Tasler and The Associated Press contributed to this report.