WASHINGTON – A Pima County judge ruled Friday that a near-total ban on abortions in Arizona is back in effect, after revoking a 50-year injunction that became moot after the US Supreme Court this summer overturned his decision Roe v. Wade.
Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson’s ruling came just hours before a state law that would have allowed abortions up to 15 weeks of pregnancy went into effect.
The law of 1901 which she resurrected makes it a crime, punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, to carry out an abortion or to take any action “with the intention in this way of procuring a spontaneous abortion for that woman, unless it is necessary save her life “.
Abortion rights advocates urged Johnson last month to keep the injunction in place, saying the 1901 ban would create confusion for health care workers and prosecutors and overturn nearly 50 years of law recognizing abortion as a “medical and legal procedure”.
But in a ruling delivered late Friday afternoon, Johnson said changing the injunction as his lawyers wanted was “not procedurally or legally appropriate.”
“The Court considers that since the legal basis of the 1973 ruling has now been overturned, it must set aside the ruling in its entirety,” Johnson wrote. “The Court finds the attempt to reconcile fifty years of procedurally incorrect legislative activity in the context of the motion and the minutes before it.”
Supporters of abortion rights were quick to condemn the sentence and vowed to fight it.
“Today’s Pima County Superior Court ruling has the deplorable and practical result of sending Arizonans back nearly 150 years,” said a statement from Brittany Fonteno, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona. “No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom and how we live our lives today.”
Planned Parenthood said in a tweet Friday night that due to Johnson’s sentence “he was forced to suspend abortion services, to protect our providers and patients”.
But Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who had argued there is no reason to uphold the injunction imposed by Roe now that Roe has been overturned, said Johnson made the right choice.
“We applaud the court for supporting the will of the legislator and for providing clarity and consistency on this important issue,” Brnovich said in a statement shortly after the ruling was passed.
Johnson’s order is the latest fallout from this summer’s Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, the historic 1973 decision that recognized the right to abortion. In June, the court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health that Roe’s previous reasoning was “extremely wrong” and that it should be left to state lawmakers to decide whether abortion should be legal.
Since Dobbs, at least 14 states have instituted a total ban on abortion, with some states passing “trigger laws” to enact a ban when the court overturned Roe. Other states, like Arizona, have been left to grapple with what laws should apply once Roe is lifted.
Immediately after Dobbs, Brnovich initially stated that the 15-week limit that passed this year and which will go into effect on Saturday would be the country’s law. He later withdrew, however, and said the 1901 ban was still in effect and would come back into effect as soon as the injunction was lifted.
A spokesman for Brnovich defended that position in August, saying in a statement that state lawmakers have “consistently reaffirmed our law that existed before Roe v. Wade, most recently legislation passed by lawmakers and signed by the government at the start of this quest. ‘year”.
This was picked up on Friday by Johnson’s order.
“Significantly, when passing abortion laws when Roe v. Wade was law, the legislature repeatedly denied that the statutes enacted created a right to abortion,” he wrote.
Clinics in Arizona, unsure of the law after Dobbs, briefly suspended all abortion procedures in the state, while providing other family planning and obstetrics / gynecology services. Many began to re-propose abortion, however, as legal challenges resolved. By the first of this month, at least five clinics in Phoenix, Tempe and Tucson had resumed abortions.
Johnson’s ruling now criminalizes abortions in the state, a move welcomed by anti-abortion groups.
“Arizona’s abortion law actually states that life is a human right and should not be sacrificed unless the mother’s life is at risk,” says a statement from the Center for Arizona Policy. “Judge Johnson rightly overturned a 1973 Pima County injunction.”
Pima County Attorney Laura Conover, who filed a pleading in support of Planned Parenthood’s challenge to Brnovich’s motion to lift the injunction, said she was “obviously very disappointed” by the ruling.
“We were hoping for a different outcome and will evaluate the legal remedies available. My priorities as a Pima County attorney are safety and public health, ”Conover’s statement said.
In his ruling, Johnson said Planned Parenthood, whose challenge of the ban on abortion on constitutional grounds in the early 1970s led to the injunction, may take new legal action to challenge the law again. This is what Fonteno said you intend to do.
“This is not the end of the fight, this harmful ban has no place in Arizona and we will persist until it is achieved,” the Fonteno statement said.