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Arizona Rules Abortion is Legal up to 15 Weeks

States across the nation have been trying to work off their laws concerning abortion in the wake of an appeal to the United States Supreme Court which overturned Casey and Roe. We have previously written about the inconsistent nature of several laws in Arizona on abortion. This culminated in an argument over power between the Republican attorney general Mark Brnovich, and governor, Doug Ducey.

At the moment, it appears that there is some clarity about what law applies within the state, as evidenced by an appeals court decision late on Friday.

Arizona Republic:

Arizona appeals judges on Friday decided that abortions in Arizona by licensed doctors are allowed up to 15 weeks gestation, despite an 18th century complete ban on abortions.

The decision of the three-member panel of south division of Arizona Court of Appeals clarifies the air of confusion for months over the legality of abortions in Arizona by saying that doctors who are performing abortions under a new law that allows the procedure to last for up to fifteen weeks gestation aren't in danger of being prosecuted under the near-total abortion law of the territorial-era prohibition.

State laws on abortion have been in flux since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on June 24, which was to abolish the constitutional rights to have an abortion, and to let the decision be left to states. However, both surgical and medication abortions have been legal in Arizona up to 15 weeks gestation since October, in the midst of an appeal of the court's decision, which was demanded by Planned Parenthood Arizona.

The 15-week law was passed through the Arizona legislature's adoption (and Ducey's signature) of the bill earlier in 2022.

…. A law that was passed through the Arizona Legislature which came into effect in the late of September, prohibits the abortion of women after 15 weeks gestation “absent a medical emergency” and does not make exemptions for incest or rape. Doctors who violate the 15-week law are subject to a felony class six under Arizona law.

But, when SCOTUS handed down its ruling on the issue, many pro-life conservatives including Brnovich were hoping that an earlier law from the 19th century would be reinstated and ban abortions, unless the mother's life was in danger.

The appellate judges did remove the 19th-century law, and instead concluded that the 19th century statute and the 15-week law are not in contradiction. They “can be reconciled such that physicians are permitted to perform abortions in compliance” with the 15-week law, and will not be punished under the territorial-era law, according to the ruling.

Although Arizonans have now a bit of clarification on abortion, this may not be the last decision on the issue as per the statement of Arizona's state-wide the conservative organization Center for Arizona Policy:

Cathi Herrod, who is the president of the conservative Center for Arizona Policy, released a statement on Friday that said the case will result in an appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court. It was noted that the Center for Arizona Policy was not involved in the trial.

“The fight to protect unborn life and women from the harms of abortion does not end with an Arizona Court of Appeals ruling,” Herrod's statement read. “I am confident Arizona's pre-Roe law limiting abortion to cases where the mother's life is at risk will be upheld by Arizona's Supreme Court.”

The argument for life in the Copper state is likely to be made by both individuals and groups at least for the short-term: Arizona's newly elected Democrat attorney general Kris Mayes, is uncompromisingly pro-abortion.

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