Arizona Court Allows Abortion Under 15 Weeks

On Friday, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that Arizona can impose a ban on abortion after 15 weeks, but cannot impose a near-total abortion ban imposed when the state was a territory.

In September, Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson had granted a request by the state’s Republican attorney general to lift a court injunction barring the enforcement of Arizona’s pre-statehood ban on abortion.

The pre-statehood law carried a prison sentence of two to five years for abortion providers and barred abortion in all cases except when “it is necessary to save (the mother’s) life.”

The new court of appeals decision makes it legal for a licensed physician to perform an elective abortion after fifteen weeks.

The appeals court statement says, “The statutes, read together, make clear that physicians are permitted to perform abortions as regulated” by other abortion laws.”

Brittany Fonteno, president, and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Arizona called it 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.” she said.

Abortion providers had stopped providing abortions in the state after Roe was struck down and an 1864 law giving personhood rights to fetuses was allowed to be enforced.

The personhood law classified fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs as “people” starting at the point of conception.

Abortions were restarted in mid-July of 2022 after the “personhood” law was blocked by courts and then stopped again when a Tucson judge allowed the 1864 law to be enforced.

The disputes over Arizona’s abortion laws have created great confusion in Arizona as parties on both sides of the issue continue to battle it out in the courts.

During the race for governor, then-candidate Katie Hobbs (D) portrayed GOP opponent Kari Lake as “extreme” on abortion because Lake promised to “uphold the laws that are on the books.”

The current law enacted by the Legislature limits abortions to 15 weeks into a pregnancy, which is below the limit of 24 weeks allowed before Roe was overturned.

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