Arizona judge rules 19th century abortion ban can take effect

Ross D. Franklin/AP Photo

An Arizona judge ruled Friday that a state law prohibiting nearly all abortions can take effect, forcing clinics in the state to immediately stop offering the procedure.

The state’s pre-Roe law, which prohibits all abortions except to save the life of the pregnant person, was enacted in 1864, before Arizona became a state. But enforcement of the statute has been blocked since 1973, when it was found unconstitutional by the Arizona Court of Appeals and subsequently enjoined in superior court.

“The Court finds that because the legal basis for the judgment entered in 1973 has now been overruled, it must vacate the judgment in its entirety,” Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson wrote in her ruling.

Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who in July filed a motion asking the court to allow the law to take effect, praised the court’s decision in a tweet on Friday.

“We applaud the court for upholding the will of the legislature and providing clarity and uniformity on this important issue,” he said.

What’s next: Abortion-rights advocates are expected to appeal the decision — as well as to push to get a Democrat elected to replace Brnovich, who is term limited.

“Today is a difficult day for Arizonans — now subject to a total abortion ban that will have a devasting effect throughout our borders and beyond,” said Caroline Mello Roberson, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s southwest regional director. “We’re working alongside our 75,000 members across the Copper State to send a clear message: When you come for our rights, we come for your seat.”