ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs files amicus brief arguing against restoration of pre-statehood abortion law

Oct 5, 2023, 8:00 PM

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs filed an amicus brief in opposition of a pre-statehood abortion law that, ...

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs filed an amicus brief in opposition of a pre-statehood abortion law that, if restored, would allow doctors to be prosecuted for performing the operation. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs filed an amicus brief in opposition to a pre-statehood abortion law that, if restored, would allow doctors to be prosecuted for performing the operation.

Hobbs argued that access to abortion services is critical to the health and safety of Arizonans. The Democrat added that Arizona women need access to care regardless of an unplanned pregnancy or one that endangers their health, safety or economic viability.

The Arizona Supreme Court will review a lower court’s conclusion in Planned Parenthood Arizona vs. Mayes that abortion doctors can’t be prosecuted under the 1864 law on Dec. 12.

“I made a promise to Arizonans that I would do everything in my power to protect reproductive freedom, and I’m working every day to follow through on that promise,” Hobbs said in the brief.

“I will continue to fight relentlessly against out-of-touch extremists who want to jail doctors and end the right of Arizonans to make decisions about their own bodies and futures. Together, I know we can protect reproductive freedom and stop radicals from reinstating a total abortion ban.”

If the 1864 law is reinstated, it would impose a near-total ban on abortions. There would be no exceptions for rape or incest and abortions would only be allowed if a mother’s life is in danger under the 19th century law.

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

The state Court of Appeals said in December 2022 it wasn’t viewing the pre-statehood law in isolation from other statutes and concluded the state’s laws make it clear only doctors are permitted to perform abortions. Non-doctors would still be subject to prosecution under the old law, the appeals court said.

A court had blocked enforcement of the 1864 law shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court issued the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a constitutional right to an abortion. After the Supreme Court overturned the landmark decision in June 2022, then-Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich succeeded in getting a state judge in Tucson to lift the court order blocking its enforcement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs files amicus brief arguing against restoration of pre-statehood abortion law