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Abortion in Arizona: 15-week law goes into effect; doctors can’t be charged over 1864 ban, appeals court rules

A 15-week ban on abortions in Arizona can go into effect and doctors can’t be charged under a more than 100-year-old pre-statehood law that bans nearly all abortions, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Friday. 

The 15-week law was passed by the state legislature earlier this year following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and is far less restrictive than the 1864 near-total ban, which the appeals court decided not to repeal but said can’t be enforced for health professionals. 

The appeals court ruled that laws passed since 1864 allow doctors to perform the procedure; however, non-health professionals would still be subject to punishment. 

Doctors are subject to violating the 15-week ban. 

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A 15-week abortion ban is now law in Arizona. 
(AP Photo/Matt York)

Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich had asked for the pre-statehood ban to be enforced following the overturning of Roe. 

Democrat Kris Mayes, who beat her Republican challenger to succeed Brnovich as attorney general following a recount Thursday, said she doesn’t plan to enforce the 15-week ban, according to FOX 10 Phoenix. 

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“Under this construction, our contemporary statutes permit physicians to perform elective abortions up to fifteen weeks but only in conformity with a host of exacting regulations,” the appeals ruling read, according to FOX 10. “Our original law continues to outlaw abortions under all circumstances not permitted by that subsequent legislation.” 

Arizona’s Attorney General-elect Kris Mayes, a Democrat, said she does not plan on enforcing the state’s 15-week abortion ban.
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Abortion providers stopped providing the procedure in the state after Roe was struck down, restarted in mid-July after a “personhood” law giving legal rights to unborn children was blocked by a court and stopped them again when a Tucson judge allowed the 1864 law to be enforced.

Other states that have strict abortion laws include Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Bans in Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming are also not in effect, at least for now, as courts decide whether they can be enforced.

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Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said in October she would use “discretion” in following the law, whatever it ends up being. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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