Late on Friday, an Arizona appellate court stayed a lower court’s order to reinstate an outdated rule that only permits the practice if it is necessary to save the life of a pregnant person, halting the state’s nearly entire ban on abortion. Planned Parenthood Arizona, a pro-choice organisation, appealed Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson’s decision in September, which led to the order by the Arizona Court of Appeals.
Until the appeal can be heard by the appellate court, the stay is in effect. A long-standing injunction against the nearly entire limitations had been removed by Johnson. These limits are based on an 1864 legislation that makes no exceptions for victims of rape or incest and threatens to imprison abortionists for up to five years.
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The trial court may have erred in resurrecting the Civil War-era law, according to Judge Peter J. Eckerstrom, writing for the three appellate judges who ordered the stay, because it contrasts with more current regulations that give abortion applicants greater latitude. The 1864 restriction is in contrast with a law that went into effect last month and allows abortions up to 15 weeks.
State Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R), who opposes abortion rights and has declared he plans to enforce the previous legislation, had pleaded with the courts to make their position clear. The previous legislation, which was revised and codified in 1901, prevails over the 15-week prohibition adopted this year, according to Johnson, the Pima County judge.
In her order, she stated that the state legislature specifically stated that the 2022 statute did not “repeal” the earlier ban. Planned Parenthood’s lawyers, however, had “demonstrated a high likelihood of success,” according to the three appellate judges, for their legal case against the more stringent regulations.
The “urgent need of [health care] providers, prosecuting agencies, and the public for legal clarification” had spurred the ruling, Eckerstrom said in a one-page order, adding that “Arizona courts have a responsibility to seek to harmonise all of this state’s applicable statutes.” Brittany Fonteno, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said in a statement that the stay will provide a “temporary reprieve to Arizonans.”
She added, “Planned Parenthood Arizona is committed to defending reproductive freedom for all and will keep up this fight until this 150-year-old statute is permanently repealed.
Brnovich’s office “understands this is an emotional matter, and we will carefully analyse the court’s order before choosing the next move,” spokesperson Brittni Thomason said in a statement.
It is still possible to challenge a ruling made by the appeals court regarding prohibitions from the 19th century to the Arizona Supreme Court. Since June, when the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to an abortion statewide in 1973, reproductive rights have been in upheaval in several states.
Though it occasionally caused legal confusion, the reversed judgement gave that choice back to Congress and the states. Following Roe, a number of states failed to update their abortion laws, which leaves room for inconsistent rules to exist today. According to the Arizona Republic, Brnovich and pro-abortion advocates in Arizona recently demanded that the state legislature schedule a special session to rectify the confusion.
An Ohio judge on Friday ordered a preliminary injunction on a six-week abortion restriction while a constitutional challenge is considered, noting individual liberty in another state where reproductive rights have been restricted since the Roe decision. Today, the surgery is legal till week 22 of pregnancy.
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