Arizona Supreme Court rules state must adhere to century-old law banning nearly all abortions

Photo courtesy of CNN

Photo courtesy of CNN

Originally Published: 09 APR 24 00:42 ET
Updated: 09 APR 24 14:30 ET

(CNN) — In a historic decision Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled the state must adhere to a 123-year-old penal code provision barring all abortions except in cases when “it is necessary to save” a pregnant person’s life.

The law, which can be traced to as early as 1864, also carried a prison sentence of two to five years for abortion providers. There is a 14-day stay on the law.

The case is the latest high-profile example of the battle over abortion access that has played out across several states since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the US Supreme Court in 2022. Since that decision, nearly two dozen states have banned or limited access to the procedure. Providers have warned that restrictive policies on abortion access place patients at risk of poor health outcomes and doctors at risk of legal liability.

In a notice Monday, the Arizona court indicated it will file an opinion in Planned Parenthood of Arizona vs. Mayes/Hazelrigg at approximately 10 a.m. PT Tuesday.

Justices heard opening arguments in the case last December, when abortion rights opponents claimed the state should revert to the 1901 ban, and advocates asked the court to affirm the 2022 law allowing abortions up to 15 weeks, CNN previously reported.

When he signed the law in March 2022, then-Gov. Doug Ducey stated the 2022 law would not override the older law.

In late 2022, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled both abortion laws in the state must be reconciled, or “harmonized,” and that abortion is legal through 15 weeks when provided by licensed physicians in compliance with the state’s other laws and regulations, CNN previously reported.

The state Supreme Court was asked for clarity following months of uncertainty and legal wrangling over which law should apply in the state.

Last week, Arizona for Abortion Access, a group of abortion rights organizations, announced it had gathered enough signatures for a November 2024 ballot measure that would ask voters to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution.

The push is part of a massive effort to get abortion on the 2024 ballot in several states, a move abortion rights advocates are hopeful will restore some power to voters rather than state courts.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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