PHOENIX – Arizona’s Republican Attorney General announced Wednesday that a pre-state law banning all abortions is enforceable and he will soon file a petition to revoke a ban it has blocked for nearly 50 years.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office said after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its 1973 decision that abortion was a constitutional right, it was weighing whether the old law could be enforced.
His decision puts him at odds with Republican administration Doug Ducey. The governor had said, after signing a new law in March banning abortions after 15 weeks, that it took precedence over the law that had been in effect since at least 1901, 11 years before the state of Arizona.
But abortion opponents who wrote the new law and Nancy Barto, the Republican state senator who supported the law, argued that the old law could be upheld. They pointed to a specific provision that said that law was not being overruled.
“Our agency has concluded that the legislature has made clear its intentions regarding abortion laws,” Brmovich said on Twitter† “ARS 13-3603 (the pre-state law) is back in force and will not be repealed” when the new law goes into effect at the end of September.
Ducey spokesman CJ Karamargin, the governor’s office, reviewed Brnovich’s decision and had no immediate comment.
The old law says anyone who helps a pregnant woman get an abortion could be sentenced to two to five years in prison. The only exception is if the woman’s life is in danger.
Abortion clinics across Arizona had stopped providing the procedures within hours of last Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. They were concerned that the old law might be enforced.
Brittany Forteno, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said the group was outraged by Brnovich’s decision, which came after caregivers and patients had been living in distress since Friday.
“Now our extremist attorney general has announced his plans to reinstate an outdated, mandated 1901 law that will ban all abortions in Arizona until the new law goes into effect,” she said. “It is unscrupulously and drastically at odds with the 7 out of 10 Arizonans who support access to abortion.”
In addition to the total ban, there is also a law on the agenda that gives eggs and fetuses all rights. Abortion rights advocates ask a judge who refused to block it last year because Roe v. Wade was in effect to reconsider his decision† The The judge did block the ban on abortion under that law because of a fetal genetic abnormality.
After the Supreme Court decision, an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 abortion rights protesters gathered in the Capitol, where the legislature was finalizing work for its annual session.
State police used tear gas to disperse the crowd after a small group of protesters began pounding on the glass front of the state senate and one person tried to kick in a sliding glass door. No arrests or injuries were reported Friday night, but the protests continued for two days and several people were arrested.
Brnovich is one of several Republicans competing for their party’s nomination to the United States Senate in the August 2 primary.
According to the most recent report from the Arizona Department of Health Services, there were just over 13,000 abortions in Arizona in 2020. Of these, less than 650 were performed after 15 weeks of pregnancy.