1864 Arizona law to send abortion providers to prison may apply, county prosecutor says

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell/Screenshot campaign video

By Ray Stern | Arizona Republic

A 158-year-old law that calls for mandatory prison time for abortion providers could be in effect in Maricopa County, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said.

An injunction from enforcing the law placed by the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1973 after the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling covered the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and Pima County, she said.

“The issue is whether it covers the other 14 counties. That’s going to have to be addressed by the court,” Mitchell said during a brief news conference Tuesday about abortion laws. “If that’s how the court rules — that the injunction does not cover Maricopa County — then yes, it would be in effect here.”

Even though it doesn’t apply to Maricopa County, Mitchell said her office could file a petition to lift the injunction. And she wouldn’t do that without a case referred for prosecution, which hasn’t happened yet.

Mitchell said that a new law signed this year by Gov. Doug Ducey that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy would go into effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session. It provides an exception to save the life of the mother but not for survivors of rape or incest.

Her statements didn’t go far in clearing up public confusion over the legality of abortion since the June 24 release of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing states to set their own abortion policies.

Roe v. Wade overturned:What is the law for abortions in Arizona now?

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