Arizona Court Rule Abortion Doctors Can’t Be Charged Under State Law

An Arizona appeals court ruled Friday that abortion doctors cannot be prosecuted under a pre-statehood law that criminalizes essentially all abortions but has been barred for decades from being enforced.

  • The three-judge panel said the said Arizona doctors cannot be prosecuted for performing abortions in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy because other  state laws passed over the years allow them to perform the procedure.
  • However, the court declined to repeal the 1864 law, which carries a sentence of two to five years in prison for anyone who assists in an abortion and provides no exceptions for rape or incest.
  • “The statutes, read together, make clear that physicians are permitted to perform abortions as regulated” by other abortion laws, the appeals court wrote.
  • The pre-statehood law, which allows abortions only if a patient’s life is in jeopardy, was blocked from being enforced shortly after the Supreme Court in 1973 issued its Roe v. Wade decision that provided women a constitutional right to an abortion.
  • But after the high court this past summer overturned the landmark decision, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked a state judge to allow the law to be implemented.