Arizona Gov. Hobbs signs executive order stripping county attorneys from prosecuting abortions

Jun 23, 2023, 12:01 PM | Updated: 12:14 pm

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)...

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs on Friday announced she signed an executive order that strips the state’s 15 county attorneys from prosecuting abortion cases.

The order, dated Thursday, gives the prosecutorial authority on the issue solely to the attorney general, who is currently Democrat General Kris Mayes.

It also directs state agencies to not assist in investigations by other states into crimes related to reproductive health care that would not be punishable under Arizona law. The order also restricts extraditions in such cases.

“I made a promise to Arizonans that I would do everything in my power to protect reproductive freedom and this executive order reflects that promise,” Hobbs said in a statement.

“I will not allow extreme and out of touch politicians to get in the way of the fundamental right Arizonans have to make decisions about their own bodies and futures.”

The order also creates a council that makes recommendations aimed at expanding access to sexual and reproductive health care in Arizona.

Mayes, in the statement, cited the Roe v. Wade reversal from June 2022, which overturned the constitutional right to abortion access, as a key reason for the order.

“Together, we will continue to do what the voters of Arizona elected us to do — fight like hell to protect the rights of Arizonans to make their own private medical decisions without interference from extremist politicians and anti-choice groups,” Mayes said.

Abortions are currently allowed in Arizona in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy under a 2022 law.

Anti-abortion activist Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, questioned the legality of the Hobbs order.

“In her zeal for abortion, Gov. Hobbs has exceeded her authority as governor,” Herrod said in a statement. “The law does not allow her to strip county attorneys of their clear enforcement authority as granted in various Arizona laws.”

Planned Parenthood Arizona, which stopped providing abortion services last year for a time following the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, said it was pleased with Hobbs’ actions.

“This executive order will help ease the fear and uncertainty that swept through Arizona in the year since Roe was overturned and protect all those seeking and providing necessary health care,” the provider said in a statement.

With Saturday marking the first anniversary of Roe v. Wade getting overturned, reproductive freedom has been a focus for Hobbs this week.

On Thursday, she announced her support for state legislation codifying access to contraception.

A Democratic lawmaker will introduce it in January. But the bill is a long shot in a Republican-controlled state Legislature.

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Arizona Gov. Hobbs signs executive order stripping county attorneys from prosecuting abortions