Arizona High Court Extends Delay On 1864 Abortion Law Enforcement

 May 15, 2024

In a significant judicial development, the Arizona Supreme Court has decided to postpone the enforcement of a centuries-old state abortion law.

According to NBC News, the enforcement of the nearly total abortion ban originally from 1864 is now deferred following efforts by state officials.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, successfully petitioned the court for an additional 90-day extension to delay the enforcement of this archaic statute. This move temporarily relieves the looming threat of a near-total ban on abortions in Arizona, initially set to be reinstated this June.

Upon signing the repeal of the 1864 ban on May 2, Governor Katie Hobbs initiated a countdown to nullify this long-standing law. However, this repeal cannot officially take effect until 90 days after the state's ongoing legislative session concludes—a session that, based on last year's schedule, might stretch into late July.

Extended Judicial Order Alleviates Immediate Ban Concerns

The Supreme Court's order effectively reduces the window during which the 1864 ban could be enforced, setting a new potential date in late September. If not for this judicial intervention, the restrictive ban would have resumed on June 27.

Attorney General Mayes expressed his relief and gratitude after the court's decision. He hinted at the possibility of further legal battles depending on how the situation evolves in the courts.

Referencing the upcoming struggles and the community's response, Mayes said:

I am grateful that the Arizona Supreme Court has stayed enforcement of the 1864 law and granted our motion to stay the mandate in this case for another 90 days. We will consider the best legal course of action to take from here.

The postponement provides a temporary relief against the backdrop of a more recent and still active 2022 abortion law, which restricts abortions post the 15th week of pregnancy, except in specific dire circumstances.

Community Advocates Push For November Ballot Changes

Stirred by the fluid legal landscape, advocacy groups such as Arizona for Abortion Access are fervently campaigning for a November ballot amendment that would protect abortion rights up to the point of fetal viability.

Chris Love, a spokesperson for the group, emphasized the critical nature of the present laws, which he believes harshly penalize women experiencing pregnancy complications and victims of rape or incest. Here's what he shared about the ongoing challenges:

With this order, Arizonans are still subjected to another extreme ban, one that punishes patients experiencing pregnancy complications and survivors of rape and incest.

In contrast to the historical 1864 statute, this newer 15-week restriction does not include exceptions for rape or incest, placing further emphasis on the upcoming ballot as a crucial juncture for Arizona's abortion laws.

While the latest court order temporarily sidelines the 1864 ban, it does not disrupt the enforcement of the more restrictive 15-week abortion ban from 2022. This maintains a significant degree of regulatory control over abortion practices in the state.

In conclusion, while Judge Katie Hobbs' repeal and the subsequent court delay have provided a temporary suspension of the 1864 law, the interplay of legislative, judicial, and electoral actions in the coming months will be key to determining the long-term status of abortion rights in Arizona.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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