Arizona Abortion Allowed to Resume After Appeals Court Decision

Abortion could happen again in Arizona, at least for now, after an appeals court on Friday blocked enforcement of an ex-state law almost completely criminalized process.

A three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals agreed with Planned Parenthood that a judge should not have removed the decades-old order that prevented the old law from taking effect.

Presiding Judge Peter J. The brief order, written by Ackerstrom, said Planned Parenthood and its Arizona affiliate have shown they are likely to prevail over an appeal of a decision by a judge in Tucson to allow the old law to apply.

He said the judge should have considered a number of laws prohibiting abortion because the original injunction was enacted following the 1973 decision of the US Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, which held that women had a constitutional right to abortion. Is.

Those laws include a new method preventing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy that went into effect last month. The previous limit was 24 weeks, now the feasibility standard established by US Supreme Court cases.

“Arizona courts have a responsibility to try to harmonize all relevant statutes of this state,” Ackerstrom wrote, echoing arguments made by attorneys for Planned Parenthood.

Abortion Arizona
Selina Washburn protests outside the Arizona Capitol to express her disagreement with the abortion decision on September 23, 2022 in Phoenix.

Matt York/AP

The Supreme Court dismissed Roe in June, and Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Branovich then asked that the pre-state abortion injunction be blocked. Superior Court Judge Kelly Johnson of Pima Court agreed on September 23 and lifted the order two weeks earlier.

“Today’s decision provides a much-needed sense of security for both our patients and providers,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “Now we can breathe a sigh of relief and serve patients. While the battle isn’t over, Arizonans will once again be able to make their own decisions about their bodies, their health care decisions, and their future.”

There was no immediate response to a request for comment from a spokesman for State Attorney General Mark Branovich.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has said the 15-week law he signed in March takes precedence, but his lawyers have not tried to argue that position in court.

Language in the new 15-week ban said it does not repeal the ex-state law, and Branovich and some Republican lawmakers have insisted that the older law takes precedence. There is an exception to this if the mother’s life is at risk, but not for rape or incest.

Providers across the state halted abortions after the US Supreme Court ruling, but many resumed procedures in the middle of summer. It came after a federal judge blocked a separate “personality” law they were concerned would allow criminal charges against doctors and nurses. They stopped again after Johnson’s decision.

The appeals court said the trial court restricted its analysis to only the attorney general’s request and refused to consider subsequent laws passed by the Legislature to overturn the injunction issued after Roe was handed over to regulate abortion.

The appeals court has set a hearing for next week on whether to set an expedited schedule for the hearing of Planned Parenthood’s full appeals.

Separately this week, a Phoenix doctor and abortion rights group sued to block the old law, raising similar arguments Johnson had rejected. In his decision, Johnson wrote that there may have been legal questions regarding conflicting laws, but they were not properly before him.

Some clinics in Arizona have been referring patients to providers in California and New Mexico since Johnson lifted an injunction on the old law. The pre-state law provides for a prison sentence of two to five years for doctors or any other person who assists in an abortion. Last year, the Legislature repealed a law allowing charges against women seeking abortions.

A Phoenix clinic has come up with a solution to allow patients who can use abortion pills to deliver them to the California-Arizona border for pickup. This reduces the time it takes to take abortion pills, which are effective up to 12 weeks gestation, from a two-day trip to a one-day trip.

Since the row was reversed, Arizona and 13 other states have banned abortion at any stage of pregnancy. According to a report by the Arizona Department of Health Services, approximately 13,000 people in Arizona have abortions each year.

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