Arizona judge rules 1864 law banning nearly all abortions can take effect

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Arizona State Capitol
Arizona State Capitol. Shutterstock

TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich praised Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson for ruling Sept. 23 that a state law prohibiting nearly all abortions can take effect.

“We applaud the court for upholding the will of the Legislature and providing clarity and uniformity on this important issue,” Brnovich said in a tweet. “I have and will continue to protect the most vulnerable Arizonans.”

The Republican attorney general filed a motion in July asking the court to allow the law to take effect.

Enacted in 1864, before Arizona became a state, the law prohibits all abortions except to save the life of a pregnant woman.

The law had been blocked since 1973, the year the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion across the country. That year the Arizona Court of Appeals found the state ban to be unconstitutional and it was enjoined in superior court.

With its ruling June 24 of this year that overturned Roe, the U.S. Supreme Court returned the issue of abortion to the states.

In her decision, Johnson wrote: “The court finds that because the legal basis for the judgment entered in 1973 has now been overruled, it must vacate the judgment (blocking the 1864 law) in its entirety. … While there may be legal questions the parties seek to resolve regarding Arizona statutes on abortion, those questions are not for this court to decide here.”

Brittany Fonteno, CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said the judge’s ruling will “strip Arizonans from their right to live under a rule of law that respects our bodily autonomy and reproductive decisions.”

Supporters of legal abortion were expected to appeal Johnson’s decision.

Earlier this year lawmakers passed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law. He said it will remain in place, but others said the reinstated 1864 law would take precedence.

Still, others said that having “dueling laws” will lead to confusion.

Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service has reported from the Vatican since the founding of its Rome bureau in 1950.