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Arizona Rules to Ban Abortions Utilizing a Law From 1864

Government officials continue to challenge abortion rights.

Four signs are up in the air reading: "abortion is healthcare" "bans off our bodies" "human right" "my body my choice"
Credit: Shutterstock / Longfin Media

It’s official: we’re heading back to the 1800s where women had little to no rights. 

On Tuesday the Arizona Supreme Court ruled to enforce an 1864 law that bans nearly all abortions in a 4-2 vote. 

The state has officially subscribed to a law that bans all abortions with no exceptions, like rape or incest, except if the mother’s life is in jeopardy, AP news reports. 

Anyone who administers or supplies a pregnant woman with an abortion then faces two to five years in prison if it’s an abortion that doesn’t adhere to this exception.  

This throws out a lower court ruling that allows abortions up to 15 weeks into a pregnancy. The Arizona Supreme Court has delayed enforcement for 14 days to give opportunities for challenges to the law. 

Arizona now joins the ranks of other extremely restrictive states like Alabama and Texas, along with becoming the 17th state in the country to have virtually outlawed abortions since the overturn of Roe v. Wade.  

Why This is Happening

This law, originally known as the Howard Code, was enacted before Arizona had even been developed as a state. 

Then, under Roe v. Wade, the law was blocked due to its constraints on abortion rights.

But with the overturn, several politicians have jumped on the chance to ban abortions in every way possible as the power has been left in the hands of the states, including, clearly, Arizona. 

On top of that, in 2016, Republican governor Doug Ducey expanded the Arizona Supreme Court from five to seven justices, filling the four seats who ruled in favor of reenacting this law.  

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes released a statement Tuesday following the ruling stating, “The decision made by the Arizona Supreme Court today is unconscionable and an affront to freedom.The Court has risked the health and lives of Arizonans. Today’s decision to reimpose a law from a time when Arizona wasn’t a state, the Civil War was raging, and women couldn’t even vote will go down in history as a stain on our state. Let me be completely clear, as long as I am Attorney General, no woman or doctor will be prosecuted under this draconian law in this state.”

As the topic of women’s reproductive rights has been on the hot seat in the past few years, this is just one more move closer to the full ban of abortions that certain groups have been pushing for. 

“A couple of weeks ago, I had an abortion—a safe, legal abortion here in Arizona for a pregnancy I very much wanted, a pregnancy that failed,” said Arizona Sen. Eva Burch on Tuesday at a news conference. “Somebody took care of me. Somebody gave me a procedure so that I wouldn’t have to experience another miscarriage—the pain, the mess, the discomfort. And now we’re talking about whether or not we should put that doctor in jail.”

Politicians are already taking advantage, as Vice President Kamala Harris headed to Arizona on Friday to mobilize voters who care about the issue, CNN reports. 

Written By

Kaitlyn Mahan (she/her) is currently a freshman at Columbia College Chicago double majoring in creative writing and journalism. She predominantly focuses on prominent news coverage both nation and world wide and hopes to pursue a career in news publication writing.

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