ARIZONA NEWS

Top metro Phoenix prosecutor says women can’t be tried for abortions in light of ruling

Apr 10, 2024, 4:25 AM | Updated: 6:38 am

Maricopa County Attorney said she wouldn't prosecute abortions but can't under Arizona law on April...

Maricopa County Attorney said she wouldn't prosecute abortions but can't under Arizona law on April 9, 2024. (Photo By Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo By Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Metro Phoenix’s top prosecutor said women can’t be tried for abortions under Arizona law the same day the state Supreme Court mostly banned the procedure.

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, a Republican, said Tuesday that state law forbids prosecution for women who get an abortion. Mitchell added that even if she could, she wouldn’t seek prosecution against women who receive an abortion.

That includes women who sought an abortion as a result of rape, incest or molestation.

“My priority always has been to protect women, not prosecute them,” Mitchell said in a statement.

Mitchell, a career sex crimes prosecutor before her appointment, said her office hasn’t received any requests to prosecute an abortion case since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022, giving states the authority to make their own laws regulating abortion.

The 1864 law carries a sentence of 2-5 years in prison for doctors or anyone else who assists in an abortion.

How will Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office handle abortion law?

Meanwhile, Maricopa County Sheriff Russ Skinner said his department wouldn’t be policing abortion clinics.

“They have made it clear they will not prosecute matters falling under the case that was decided today and our deputies will not make any arrests,” Skinner said in a statement Tuesday.

“Our deputies in Maricopa County will continue to be in the community with a focus of keeping criminals off the street and our neighborhoods safe.”

Mitchell calls on Legislature to update abortion law

Mitchell, like many prominent leaders in Arizona, called for an adjustment to the law through the Arizona Legislature.

Abortion had been legal in Arizona up to 15 weeks of pregnancy under a December 2022 appeals court decision prior to Tuesday’s ruling.

“Today’s ruling, rather than settling the issue, has raised issues and caused many to have legitimate and serious concerns,” Mitchell said.

“In the meantime, we will continue to focus on the cases that always have been the priorities of this office: keeping the community safe by holding violent and repeat offenders accountable including those who would victimize women and children.”

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Top metro Phoenix prosecutor says women can’t be tried for abortions in light of ruling