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Arizona reinstates 1864 ban on all abortions with one exception


Shutterstock | zffoto

J-P Mauro - published on 10/01/22

The 19th-century law was blocked in 1973 by the passage of Roe v. Wade.

The Arizona state legislature has reinstated a 19th-century law that prohibits all abortions, with the only exception being to save the life of the mother. The move comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s June decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, and months after Arizona passed a ban on all abortions after 15 weeks

Our Sunday Visitor reports the law originated in 1864 and was on the books until it was blocked in 1973 with the passage of Roe. When Roe effectively legalized abortion nationwide, the state found the 1864 ban to be unconstitutional. When the US Supreme Court placed the issue back in the hands of the states, it opened the door for the old law to return.

The decision was made on September 23, by Judge Kellie Johnson. In her ruling, Johnson explained: 

“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.”


Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich took to Twitter to applaud the decision, writing that the state legislature provided “clarity and uniformity on this important issue.” 

The decision has not permanently settled the issue of abortion in Arizona. Johnson’s noting that questions of abortion are not for “this” court to decide suggests that pro-abortion organizations can still challenge it, or seek institution of another law by other legal means. 

This is a fight that is likely to occur, as Brittany Fonteno, CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, decried Johnson’s ruling. She said the decision will “strip Arizonans from their right to live under a rule of law that respects our bodily autonomy and reproductive decisions.”

Supporters of the legalization of abortion are expected to appeal the ruling in the coming months. 

Visit our Sunday Visitor for more.

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