PHOENIX (AP) — Abortion rights supporters filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block an old Arizona law that criminalizes nearly all abortions, arguing that laws passed by the state legislature after the decision Roe v. Wade’s 1973 should prevail and that abortions should be permitted up to 15 weeks into a pregnancy.
The lawsuit brought by a Phoenix abortion doctor and the Arizona Medical Association repeats many of the arguments made by Planned Parenthood and its Arizona affiliate in their unsuccessful bid last month to persuade a Tucson judge to hold places a 50-year injunction prohibiting the application of pre-state law. The judge said it was not procedurally appropriate for her to try to reconcile 50 years of newer law with the old law.
Instead, she agreed with Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich that the injunction should be lifted now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe.
The Sept. 23 decision by Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson came a day before a new law signed by Republican Governor Doug Ducey banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Following the ruling that the 1864 law prohibiting abortion unless the mother’s life was in danger was enforceable, abortion clinics across the state closed. It was the second time the clinics had halted their services – they closed the first time after the Supreme Court ruling, but some restarted after a federal judge ruled that another “personality” law was inapplicable.
There is no exception for rape or incest under the old law.
The new lawsuit was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court and seeks an order stating that a series of more recent laws regulating physician abortion practices enacted since Roe are the ones that should be enforceable, including the 15-week ban that Ducey signed in March. The pre-territorial law should only be applicable to non-doctors, according to the lawsuit.
Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Reproductive Rights and Perkins Coie law firm filed the case, which names the state as a defendant.
“The state of Arizona has caused utter chaos by seeking to enforce conflicting abortion bans, including one of the most extreme in the nation,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a press release.
She said the result of the confusing set of laws is that providers and patients are in an untenable position where they “have no idea what the law is and whether they’re breaking it.”
Brnovich’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Clinics in Arizona arranged for patients to travel to California and New Mexico for abortions. On Monday, a Phoenix clinic announced a new workaround that allows patients to have abortion pills mailed to a city on the California-Arizona border and pick up the pills outside of the city. state, saving a two-day round trip for care.
Arizona is one of 14 states that have banned abortions at any stage of pregnancy since Roe was struck down. About 13,000 people in Arizona have abortions each year, according to reports from the Arizona Department of Health Services. About half are with a pill, which can be taken up to 12 weeks gestation, and most are made at 15 weeks or less.
Bob Christie, l’Associated Press