/ Modified apr 9, 2024 2:48 p.m.

AZ Supreme Court lets abortion ban stand

The 4-2 decision puts an 1864 law into effect.

Gavel courts justice hero

This story was updated at 2:30 PM and will updated throughout the day.

In a 4-2 decision, the Arizona Supreme Court decided Tuesday that Arizona’s 15-week abortion ban does not “create a right to, or otherwise provide independent statutory authority for, an abortion,” nor does it cancel out a Civil War-era law that bans abortions in Arizona.

The court said the 1864 law was put on hold by Roe v. Wade which was then overturned in 2022 by the Dobbs decision.

The majority of the state’s highest court wrote that since there is no federal constitutional abortion right and because the 15-week ban did not independently authorize abortion there is “no provision in federal or state law” prohibiting the enforcement of the ban.

The court sent questions about the constitutionality of the 1864 ban back to the lower courts to decide.

Governor Katie Hobbs called the ruling a “dark day in Arizona.” She said the Civil War-era abortion ban upheld by the state Supreme Court serves to create more chaos for women and doctors. She also promised to continue fighting for abortion rights.

"My executive order removing the ability of county attorneys to prosecute women and doctors for performing abortions remains. I refuse to allow extremist county prosecutors to use this abortion ban to lock up women and doctors seeking or providing needed health care," she said during a news conference after the ruling.

The 1864 law does not punish women who seek abortions but it does punish doctors who perform them with two to five years in prison. The ban is nearly total but does allow exceptions for the health of the mother.

Pima County Attorney Laura Conover, who was party to the case, said she will not legally go after doctors who perform abortions.

"I want to make this extremely clear to the community that in the coming months, there will be urgent and emergency need for health care, reproductive health care. And we need our talented providers and those in need, including victims of sexual assault. To hear this loudly and clearly. We are here for you. And you are safe here," Conover said.

Former Governor Doug Ducey, who signed the 2022 15-week ban into law, issued a statement on X saying the ruling is not the one he preferred. He also called on the state’s elected officials to “heed the will of the people and address the issue with a policy that is workable and reflective of our electorate."

State Senator T.J. Shope (R-Coolidge) issued a statement on X saying he voted for the 15-week ban and the decision by the Supreme Court "ignored legislative intent." He called the decision "disappointing" and said he will work to repeal the 1864 law so that the 15-week ban can go back in place.

Currently, there is a citizen’s initiative gathering signatures that would put abortion rights into the state constitution.

The White House announced, not long after the ruling, that Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Tucson on Friday. According to the announcement, Harris will be in Southern Arizona to "continue her leadership in the fight for reproductive freedoms."

Harris visited Phoenix last month for a similar event.

Pima County Attorney Laura Conover is not related to AZPM News Director Christopher Conover.

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