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Arizona judge upholds century-old abortion ban

An Arizona judge upheld a century-old abortion ban, nearly three months after the day the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

The highly anticipated ruling determined which version of an abortion ban would be in effect in the state — a near-total ban on abortion, with criminal penalties, dating back 11 years before Arizona became a State, or a law that prohibits abortion after 15 weeks.

A spokesman for Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said the 15-week abortion ban the legislature passed this year will go into effect Saturday and be the law of the land, despite today’s ruling that upholds the old law with prison terms for claimants.

“Governor Ducey was proud to sign SB 1164, which takes effect tomorrow. Arizona remains one of the most pro-life states in the nation,” Ducey’s spokesperson told ABC News.

Senator Mark Kelly said in a statement that the decision “would have a devastating impact on the freedom that Arizona women have enjoyed for decades.”

“Let’s be clear, this is exactly what Blake Masters wants, to completely ban abortions in Arizona and across the country – without even an exception for rape or incest. I will never stop fighting to restore these rights for women of Arizona,” Kelly said in a statement.

The 1901 law, whose wording dates back to 1864, makes no exceptions for rape, incest or fetal abnormalities and makes abortions punishable by two to five years in prison.

The only exception is if the mother’s life is in danger.

“The court finds that because the legal basis of the 1973 judgment has now been set aside, it must set aside the judgment in its entirety,” Judge Kellie Johnson wrote in the ruling.

Abortion rights activists march after protesting outside the Evo A. DeConcini U.S. federal courthouse after a majority opinion draft authored by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito leaked that would overturn the landmark decision Roe v. Wade on abortion rights later this year, in Tucson, Arizona, May 3, 2022.

Rebecca Noble/Reuters

An injunction was put in place to block the 121-year ban in 1973 following the decision in Roe v. Wade.

However, following the June Supreme Court ruling, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, announced he would seek to lift the injunction.

The decision means the 15-week ban, which prohibits abortions “except in medical emergencies” and was passed by the Arizona legislature earlier this year, will go into effect this Saturday.

Under the new ban, doctors who knowingly break the law are guilty of a crime and could have their license to practice suspended or revoked.

“The Arizona Legislature has consistently reaffirmed our existing law prior to Roe v. Wade, most recently with legislation passed by lawmakers and signed by the governor earlier this year,” Brnovich’s office told the d’Affiliate. ABC KNXV in Phoenix. “We look forward to the court bringing clarity and consistency to all Arizonans.”

Abortion rights advocates strongly opposed both bans, but expressed preference for the new law over the old. Planned Parenthood of Tucson sued Brnovich for trying to enforce the old law.

Since Roe was overturned, Arizona abortion providers have suspended or limited their services due to confusion surrounding the two bans.

ABC News

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