Mayes tells Supreme Court no one has legal standing to defend old abortion law

Howard Fischer

Capitol Media Services 

The legal right of Arizona women to have an abortion could turn on the question of whether anyone still has legal standing to argue that the procedure should once again be all but outlawed, as it was in territorial days.

In new legal filings, Attorney General Kris Mayes told the Arizona Supreme Court that the decision by her office not to defend the old law leaves no one with legal standing to do so.

If the justices agree, that would leave in place a 2022 state law that allows but regulates abortion through the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. More to the point, it would remove any danger that doctors who are now performing the procedure in that time frame would end up in prison.

Whether the Arizona justices agree depends on how they view actions that actually go back more than five decades.

In 1971, when the state’s abortion ban was first challenged by Planned Parenthood, a trial judge in Pima County appointed a “guardian ad litem” empowered to represent the legal interests of the fetus of a woman identified only as “Jane Roe” who was a plaintiff in the case and wanted to terminate her pregnancy. The judge also said that guardian also could represent other fetuses that were “similarly situated” at the time.

Arizona courts refused to overturn the law, leaving in place a statute that dates to territorial days making the process a crime except to save the life of the mother.

Mayes, abortion, territorial era, Arizona Supreme Court, 15 weeks, pregnancy


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May 2023