At issue in the appealed case were two abortion laws passed 158 years apart that appeared to be in conflict.
By Stephanie Innes || The Arizona Republic
Arizona appeals court judges on Friday ruled that abortions performed in the state by licensed physicians are legal up to 15 weeks of gestation despite a 19th-century, near-total abortion ban.
The ruling from the three-member panel from the southern division of the Arizona Court of Appeals clears up months of uncertainty over the legality of abortion in Arizona by stating that physicians who perform abortions under a new law that permits them up to 15 weeks of gestation are not subject to prosecution under the territorial-era near-total abortion ban.
Abortion law in the state had been in flux following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to eliminate the constitutional right to an abortion and leave the issue up to states, though both medication and surgical abortions have been legally occurring in Arizona up until 15 weeks of gestation since October, pending the appeals court decision, which was sought by Planned Parenthood Arizona.
“Let me be crystal clear that today is a good day. The Arizona Court of Appeals has given us the clarity that Planned Parenthood Arizona has been seeking for months: when provided by licensed physicians in compliance with Arizona’s other laws and regulations, abortion through 15 weeks will remain legal,” Planned Parenthood Arizona CEO Brittany Fonteno said in a statement Friday.
At issue in the appeal were two abortion laws passed 158 years apart that appeared to be in conflict.
Outgoing Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich wanted to uphold a 19th-century, Civil War-era near-total ban on abortion. He filed a motion in Pima County Superior Court in July to allow for that law to be enforceable.
But a law passed by the Arizona Legislature that took effect in late September bans abortions after 15 weeks of gestation “absent a medical emergency” with no exceptions for rape or incest. Physicians who violate the 15-week law face a class six felony under Arizona law.