Arizona's Historical Abortion Law Reinstated by Supreme Court

 April 11, 2024

Arizona's Attorney General, a Democrat, has declared she will not enforce the state's 1864 law that almost completely bans abortions, despite its affirmation by the state Supreme Court.

The heart of the issue is the court's decision to revive an outdated law, which overturns a newer 15-week abortion limit. This move has sparked strong criticism and promises of resistance from senior officials.

According to Breitbart News, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes has been vocally critical of the court's decision. In a bold statement, she declared her refusal to enforce what she views as a severely outdated and oppressive statute. Mayes emphasized the regression this represents and the serious implications it harbors for women's health and autonomy in Arizona.

The contentious 1864 statute in question positions itself as one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, prescribed with two-to-five-year imprisonment for those found guilty of performing abortions, save for when the procedure is necessary to save the mother's life.

The Legal Controversy Surrounding Abortion in Arizona

This recent legal battle, known as Planned Parenthood of Arizona v. Mayes/Hazerigg, centered on whether the enactment of a 15-week abortion restriction superseded the draconian 1864 law.

The court, in a decision that was less about the moral considerations of abortion and more about statutory interpretation, ruled by a majority of 4-2, with one justice recusing themselves, that the newer law did not invalidate the old.

Justice John Lopez, writing for the majority, pointed out the legislature's role in such matters over personal or public opinion on abortion.

Following the ruling, a two-week stay has been granted, offering a brief window for the parties to respond or adjust to the court's decision.

Reactions and Responses to the Court's Decision

The reaction to the court's decision has been swift and varied. Former President Donald Trump remarked on the ruling, framing it as a matter of state rights while expressing confidence in local leaders to "bring it back into reason" promptly. Conversely, many prominent Republicans in Arizona have sought to distance themselves from the ruling's implications.

Pro-abortion rights activists are now mobilizing for a constitutional change. They are rallying support for an amendment to protect abortion rights more firmly within the state's constitution, having already surpassed the required number of signatures to get the proposal on the ballot.

Kris Mayes, highlighting the gravity and contentiousness of the court's decision, lamented:

The decision made by the Arizona Supreme Court today is unconscionable and an affront to freedom. Make no mistake, by effectively striking down a law passed this century and replacing it with one from 160 years ago, the Court has risked the health and lives of Arizonans.

A Polarized Arizona Reacts to Historic Court Ruling

The story of this ruling is not simply one of laws and policies but also of the profound divisions and debates that envelop the issue of abortion in the United States. It challenges the state's residents and leaders alike to navigate these turbulent waters with an eye toward compassion, justice, and constitutional rights.

The Arizona Supreme Court's ruling has set a precedent that reverberates far beyond its borders, sparking discussions, protests, and potential policy shifts nationwide. As the state, its officials, activists, and citizens grapple with its implications, the rest of the country watches closely, understanding that Arizona's today could be their tomorrow.

About Victor Winston

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

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