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Pima County Judge rules on Arizona abortion law

Near-total abortion ban is now in place across the state
Planned Parenthood of Tucson v. Mark Brnovich et al.
Posted at 3:51 PM, Sep 23, 2022

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Arizona's near-total abortion plan is now in effect.

A little over one month since Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson heard arguments in the case between Planned Parenthood of Tucson and the Arizona Attorney General's office, Judge Johnson delivered her ruling on Friday, Sept. 23, determining which of Arizona's two abortion laws will stand in the state.

The injunction on the abortion ban has been lifted, and will now stand as law in the state of Arizona.

Arizona Attorney General tweeted immediately following the ruling's announcement:

The judge's decision clarifies that the state should enforce a pre-statehood law banning abortions.

The order also lifts the 1973 court order that stopped enforcement of the old pre-statehood law, now codified in Arizona as Revised Statute 13-3603.

ARS 13-3603 does not mention any timeline for when an abortion may be permitted. There's no 15-week rule, like the one stated the more recent state law, SB 116.

ARS 13-3603 calls for two-to-five years in prison for any abortion provider. It does allow what it describes as "procuring a miscarriage" to save the life of the mother.

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona issued the following statement in response to the ruling:

Today’s ruling by the Pima county superior court has the practical and deplorable result of sending Arizonans back nearly 150 years. No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom and how we live our lives today.

We know that today’s ruling does not reflect the will of the people, as Arizonans are overwhelmingly in favor of abortion access. Instead, it is the result of extremist Attorney General Brnovich and other anti-abortion elected officials who are on a mission to strip Arizonans from their right to live under a rule of law that respects our bodily autonomy and reproductive decisions.

Let me be clear, this is not the end of the fight, this harmful ban has no place in Arizona and we will persist until that is achieved.

The arguments Johnson heard on Friday, Aug. 19 weighed the choice between two existing laws: The first, total abortion ban dating back to 1901, which Attorney General Mark Brnovich tweeted was "back in effect" when the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year overturned 1973's Roe v. Wade ruling. That law makes an exception for abortions only when the mother's life is in danger.

The second law was passed in March by state lawmakers, and bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is in danger.

Though Planned Parenthood also stated opposition for the newer 15-week ban, in the case of this lawsuit, they said the discrepancy between the two laws was causing uncertainty among medical professionals.

Planned Parenthood attorney Sarah Mac Dougall stated in court “People’s lives will be at stake in those circumstances. Doctors might not understand whether they can provide care to their patients.”

Assistant Attorney General Brunn Roysden, who appeared in court on Aug. 19, stated that there was no conflict, and that the 15-week ban did not create "a statutory right for doctors to preform abortions either up to viability or up to 15 weeks when the new law takes effect.

Mayor of Tucson Regina Romero made a statement regarding the lifted injunction stating that the ruling is "a punch in the gut for women and people who can become pregnant."

RELATED COVERAGE: AZ abortion ruling to be decided next month

Pima County judge to hear Arizona abortion case Friday

Planned Parenthood is providing abortion services at Tucson location

Anne Simmons is the digital executive producer for KGUN 9. Anne got her start in television while still a student at the University of Arizona. Before joining KGUN, she managed multiple public access television stations in the Bay Area and has worked as a video producer in the non-profit sector. Share your story ideas and important issues with Anne by emailing or by connecting on Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.