Arizona may impose an almost total ban on abortions
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PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona can enforce a nearly total ban on abortions that has been blocked for nearly 50 years, a judge ruled Friday, meaning clinics in the state will have to stop offering the procedure to avoid filing criminal charges against doctors. and other health workers.
An ordinance has long blocked a law, on the books since before Arizona became a state, that bans nearly all abortions. The only exemption is if a woman’s life is in danger.
The ruling also means that people seeking abortions will have to go to another state to get one.
An appeal against the ruling is likely.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson’s decision came more than a month after she heard arguments on Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s request to lift the order. It went into effect shortly after the US Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which upheld women’s constitutional right to abortion.
The Supreme Court overturned Roe on June 24 and said states can regulate abortion as they wish.
What is allowed in each state has changed as legislatures and courts have acted. Bans on abortion at any point in pregnancy are in place in 12 Republican-led states.
In another state, Wisconsin, clinics have stopped providing abortions amid disputes over whether an 1849 ban is in effect. Georgia bans abortions once fetal heart activity can be detected, and Florida and Utah have bans that apply after 15 and 18 weeks of gestation, respectively.
THIS IS A HATE NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.
PHOENIX (AP) — A new Arizona law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy goes into effect Saturday as a judge weighs a request to allow a pre-state law banning nearly all abortions to apply.
The 15-week law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by GOP Gov. Doug Ducey in March was passed in hopes that the U.S. Supreme Court would loosen limits on abortion regulations. It mirrored a Mississippi law the high court was considering at the time that cuts the previous threshold by about nine weeks.
Instead, the conservative justices who hold a majority on the court completely overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that said women had a constitutional right to end a pregnancy. States are now allowed to make all abortions illegal, and a dozen have done so, while others have passed new limits.
Abortion foes celebrated the passage of the 15-week ban. Ducey, who has signed every abortion restriction bill that has reached his desk during his eight years in office, also applauded the 15-week ban.
“In Arizona, we know that there is immeasurable value in every life — including unborn life,” Ducey said in his March 30 signature letter. “I think it’s every state’s responsibility to protect them.”
On the same day he signed the abortion ban, Ducey also signed legislation that would ban transgender women and girls from playing on women’s sports teams. It also goes into effect on Saturday, along with most of the other laws passed this year.
Abortion providers, meanwhile, are awaiting a decision from a Tucson judge who is considering a request from Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich to lift an ordinance in place because right after Roe was decided it blocked enforcement of the pre – state
Judge Kellie Johnson said during a hearing last month that she would rule on Sept. 20 at the earliest. Planned Parenthood and its affiliate in Arizona urged her not to allow the old law to be enforced against health care providers and instead to allow the myriad of other abortion restrictions passed since Roe was overturned to stand.
Ducey has a similar opinion. He argued that the 15-week ban he signed takes precedence over the old law, which was first enacted as part of the set of laws known as the “Howell Code” passed by Arizona’s First Territorial Legislature in 1864.
Despite his conflict with Brnovich over whether new or old laws take precedence, Ducey did not send his in-house lawyers to argue his case at the Aug. 19 hearing.
The 15-week law will affect only about 5 percent of abortions performed in the state, according to statistics from the last three annual reports compiled by the Arizona Department of Health Services. The state averaged just under 13,000 abortions per year during that time.
But combined with a law passed last year that bans abortions because a fetus has a genetic abnormality, such as Down syndrome, the restrictions add up, said Dr. DeShawn Taylor, who provides abortion services at her clinic in Glendale.
“People forget that these percentages are real people,” Taylor said in an interview Tuesday. “Arizona’s population continues to grow … and that five to 10 percent is a lot of people who otherwise either have to get pregnant or find a way to go out of state to get the care they need.”
Taylor is an OB-GYN who runs Desert Star Family Planning, where she offers a full range of reproductive health care and is one of the few clinics that offers second-trimester abortions. Like virtually all abortion providers in the state, it halted both surgical and medication abortions after the Supreme Court threw out Roe.
Providers pointed to a pre-state and “personhood” law that has a provision banning abortion for genetic reasons that they feared could lead to prosecutions for the shutdown. But after a federal judge on July 11 blocked that provision because it said it was unconstitutionally vague, Taylor and other providers restarted services.
But it was difficult because her staff still feared prosecution, she said. One longtime nurse quit before Roe was overturned because she was worried about the upcoming decision, Taylor said.
Her medical assistant also left, and another nurse who had assisted with abortions for three years was initially reluctant to resume procedures out of unfounded fears that she might face criminal charges.
“It took some time to convince that individual that I didn’t want to go to jail either,” Taylor said. “Why would I do something illegal and ask him to do the same?”
Eventually, the nurse agreed to help, but only with non-surgical abortions, Taylor said.
On Monday, Taylor said she had her last pre-abortion consultation as she expected the decision to come on Tuesday. Arizona requires an ultrasound and at least a one-day consultation when an abortion is performed and did not want patients to cancel a procedure.
After a tumultuous summer, Taylor said Friday that he has closed his clinic for the rest of the month.
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