Near-total abortion ban passed before Arizona became a state was cleared to go into effect Friday by a Pima County Superior Court judge.
The law provides for two to five years in prison for anyone who provides an abortion or the means for an abortion. The only exception is to save the mother’s life. It is the law as it remains in the books at ARS 13-3603:
“A person who furnishes, furnishes or administers to a pregnant woman, or induces such woman to take any medicine, drug or substance, or uses or employs any instrument or other means whatsoever, with intent thereby to induce the miscarriage of such woman, unless necessary to save her life, shall be punished with imprisonment in the state prison not less than two years and not more than five years.”
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has asked for a ruling on the law after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in his June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Mississippi.
Follow Republic Reporters’ coverage of the reaction to the judge’s decision on Arizona’s abortion law here.
Protesters gathered outside the Pima County Superior Courthouse in Tucson on Friday night.
With megaphones, they chanted: “Abortion rights are human rights”. Anger and frustration were apparent.
“I am appalled that our courts are trying to institute laws that were written before the railroad came to my town,” Briggs Clinco said. “This is a medieval action that takes place against the body of human beings. It is a violation of civil rights and basic health care.
Amy Fitch-Heacock, spokeswoman for Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom, called the decision “absolutely abhorrent.”
“We are reverting to pre-statehood and even pre-statehood law,” Fitch-Heacock said. “It’s scary, and it’s going to lead to deaths.”
She said she was not surprised by the decision.
“We have seen time and time again that the judges in Arizona play a political game,” she said. “It’s less about justice and more about politics.”
And she expects a prolonged fight.
“I think this is going to drag on in court for months, and meanwhile pregnant women are less safe in Arizona,” Fitch-Heacock said.
Debra Block, one of the organizers of the Flagstaff protest, tearfully described feeling devastated when she learned of the decision.
“It’s just amazing. Women couldn’t even vote. We weren’t even a state,” she said. “What’s wrong with these people?” »
Block said she started fighting for abortion rights as a teenager. It gives her hope that a younger generation of women will continue the fight, she said, but she also feels sorry for them.
“Look at these young women,” she said, pointing to the line of young protesters who had gathered with their signs alongside her outside Flagstaff City Hall.
“What if they got pregnant and weren’t ready to have a child?” she wondered, before describing the obstacles that would now stand in their way.
Reagan Warner is a California native who moved to Flagstaff to attend Northern Arizona University. Adapting to the new reality of living under very different laws when it comes to women’s rights motivated her to support abortion rights and participate in the protest, she said.
“Knowing that even in the event of an assault, you have no right to your autonomy, even if you are not from here,” Warner said.
With Warner was another NAU student, Katherine Crawford.
“It sickens me to know that a law created in 1864 … still controls our rights to health care,” Crawford said. “It literally takes us back to the Civil War era.”
Elsa Landeros, a reproductive rights activist, stood outside the state Capitol Friday night and urged about two dozen people to return at 5 p.m. Saturday to protest the decision.
Landeros asked those gathered on Friday to share news of Saturday’s protest and encouraged reproductive rights organizations to participate.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema said on Twitter that she was ready to work with “anyone to advance common sense proposals that ensure women in Arizona and across the country can access the health care they need and have the ability to make their own decisions about their future”.
“Arizona women should not be forced to travel out of state for health care services, and Arizona doctors should not be criminalized for caring for women in need,” Sinema said.
The Democratic leadership of the Arizona Senate blamed Republicans and expressed anger over Friday’s decision:
“This decision is the result of a decades-long attack on women, reproductive health and individual liberty. The Republican Party that dealt this blow to millions of Arizonans knows exactly what kind of hell they were up to. It will kill women, break families and trap so many in generational cycles of abuse and poverty. This is hateful and disgusting,” the Senate Democratic leadership said in a statement. “No health care decisions should be made by the government.”
The decision is likely to exacerbate the political consequences of the Dobbs ruling in Arizona.
Supporters of reproductive rights rallied against the move, and Democratic candidates sharpened their messaging on the issue ahead of the midterm elections, underscoring Republicans’ preference for restricting abortion or banning it altogether.
—Ray Stern and Stacey Barchenger