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On Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled 4-2 that abortion is illegal statewide with the exception to save the mother’s life. In Planned Parenthood Arizona v. Mayes, the Court stated that “physicians are now on notice that all abortions, except those necessary to save a woman’s life, are illegal.” The 1864 near-total abortion ban can once again go into effect after 14 days.

The Court stated that the 1864 law, which had been ruled unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade, “had never been repealed,” and since there is now neither a federal right to abortion nor any federal or state law prohibiting the law’s operation, it is “now enforceable.”

The case centered around a legal challenge by Planned Parenthood arguing current law allows abortion so the Civil War-era ban should remain blocked. In June 2022, an Arizona appeals court evaluated the 1864 law and denied it from retaking effect favoring a more recent and less restrictive 15-week ban currently in place. However, with today’s Arizona Supreme Court ruling, not only will the 1864 near-total ban soon retake effect, the criminal and regulatory sanctions from the 15-week ban that penalizes physicians for performing abortions after 15 weeks will also remain in effect.

Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief in the case urging the Court to reinstate the 1864 ban to protect unborn minority and disabled children from the social eugenic agenda of the abortion industry.

In deciding the case, the Arizona High Court did not weigh the law on whether the state constitution guaranteed a right to life or abortion, rather it evaluated the state’s abortion laws in their “proper context” to determine the legislature’s desired effect from the laws.

The Court stated the “the legislature made its intent known” by not repealing the 1864 ban and by declaring in the state code that the rights of the “unborn child” were limited only by the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution. Essentially, the Court stated that “due to Roe’s demise,” Arizona’s abortion laws have become “discernible comprehensive trigger provisions.”

The Court’s majority ensured to keep the scope of its ruling from overreaching into territory reserved for the legislative branch and avoided making a “weighty policy decision” on abortion rights.

The Court wrote, “The abortion issue implicates morality and public policy concerns, and invariably inspires spirited debate and engenders passionate disagreements among citizens. A policy matter of this gravity must ultimately be resolved by our citizens through the legislature or the initiative process. Today, we decline to make this weighty policy decision because such judgments are reserved for our citizens. Instead, we merely follow our limited constitutional role and duty to interpret the law as written.”

The Court noted that state legislators have consistently restricted elective abortion absent a federal interpretation of a constitutional right to abortion.

“To date, our legislature has never affirmatively created a right to, or independently authorized, elective abortion. We defer, as we are constitutionally obligated to do, to the legislature’s judgment, which is accountable to, and thus reflects, the mutable will of our citizens,” the Court concluded.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “We commend the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate the pre-Roe abortion ban. The law was just as correct when it was passed as it is today. Abortion harms women physically and emotionally and kills defenseless children in the womb. Reinstating this law will protect countless women and innocent unborn lives. Abortion is also a tool of modern-day eugenics rooted in racism to eliminate certain races and people. The people of Arizona deserve to have laws that protect life in their state enforced.”

Author: Liberty Counsel


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