A court in Arizona will decide on a measure that would outlaw almost all abortions.

Flickr Image-Tony Webster

In Arizona, access to abortions is set to be further limited. A judge is anticipated to make a decision this week regarding the implementation of a less restrictive statute passed this year or the reinstatement of an old abortion ban.

The case, which will almost certainly be appealed no matter the outcome, concerns the appropriate level of abortion restriction in Arizona, a crucial state that President Joe Biden narrowly won by less than 11,000 votes. It’s a contentious issue that has polarized Republicans in Arizona and reflects a national discussion sparked by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade in late June. Many states with a strong Republican majority have responded by enacting ever-stricter laws that run the risk of alienating moderate voters.

The Arizona Legislature enacted a law barring abortions beyond 15 weeks earlier this year, ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court decision. Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed the bill, and it was ready to take effect. September 24, bill declaring that the new legislation would not override the 1901 statute, which forbade abortion in all circumstances except when “it is necessary to save (the mother’s) life.” This law was written before Arizona became a state and dated back to 1864. Abortion providers who violate this older law face sentences of two to five years in prison.

After the Roe decision in 1973, the prior law was halted by an injunction issued by the Pima County Superior Court. Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said he will work to implement the pre-state abortion restriction once the high court overturned Roe in June.

Following the high court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June,Planned Parenthood haad halted abortions.  Arizona temporarily suspended its abortion services before resuming them. But it is currently preparing for another potential halt in case the judge permits the pre-statehood statute to resume operation.

In a legal filing, Planned Parenthood Federation of America argued that Brnovich has pushed to enforce the pre-statehood law while “blatantly ignoring that Arizona’s statutory code today includes dozens of laws that plainly conflict with the pre-statehood law” and that this has caused “providers in Arizona to navigate inconsistent statements by elected officials about the status of the law.”The attorneys for Planned Parenthood stated that the court was required to “harmonize all of the Arizona Legislature’s enactments as they are currently existing.” The group claimed that the pre-statehood statute could “be enforceable in some respects” but shouldn’t be applied to abortions in the post-Dobbs age.

The group said that the pre-statehood rule could “be enforceable in some areas,” but it shouldn’t apply to abortions performed by licensed doctors. Instead, the restriction should apply to anybody who tries to provide abortion services without a license, according to the group.

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