Maricopa County’s Mitchell rips Hobbs for stripping county attorneys from prosecuting abortions

Jun 28, 2023, 4:31 PM

(Facebook Screenshot/Maricopa County Attorney's Office)...

(Facebook Screenshot/Maricopa County Attorney's Office)

(Facebook Screenshot/Maricopa County Attorney's Office)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell on Wednesday condemned an executive order issued by Gov. Katie Hobbs last week that stripped county attorneys of prosecuting abortion-related crimes, calling the move a power grab meant for political gain.

“It was a procedural manipulation aimed at a highly emotional topic done to win political points,” Mitchell said during a press conference.

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

That means Mitchell and the state’s 14 other county attorneys don’t have power over the cases, which Mitchell said have never popped up in Maricopa County.

Mitchell, a Republican, said the collection of county attorneys are reviewing their options and wouldn’t comment on the legality of the order.

“The enforcement, or lack thereof, should not be used for political gain,” Mitchell said.

Hobbs said the order, which 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, is airtight legally.

The Democratic governor’s announcement was the continuation of a week of focus on reproductive freedom during Pride Month.

“We are very confident in the legal foundation of the order,” Hobbs said Thursday in a press conference. “If anyone doesn’t share the same confidence in the legal foundation of that order, they have a path: they can go to court.”

Mitchell said she’s heard concerns from both sides of the aisle, particularly on the overreach of executive powers.

“Our current governor took an entire category of potential offenses and is attempting to prevent locally elected county attorneys from reviewing and making charging decisions in those matters,” Mitchell said.

“But what happens next? What happens in 3 1/2 years? What happens when another person occupies the governor’s seat and attempts this type of power grab?”

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Maricopa County’s Mitchell rips Hobbs for stripping county attorneys from prosecuting abortions