Hobbs & Mayes launch website to answer Arizona abortion questions

Gov. Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes unveiled a new website
Thursday to answer questions and provide information about abortion in
the state, following the state Supreme Court upholding a near-total ban
on the medical procedure.

ReproductiveHealth.az.gov, a state-run website includes a section for frequently asked questions including “Is abortion legal in Arizona?” and “Is birth
control legal in Arizona?” The site also includes links to resources for
birth control, mental health care, and to providers for
reproductive health and abortions.

“The Arizona Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the 1864 total abortion ban left millions of women and doctors wondering what their rights are when seeking or providing reproductive health care. I’m proud to deliver this comprehensive website to provide timely updates, trusted resources, and a safe venue to seek reproductive health care options,” Hobbs said in a statement. 

“Since I have taken office, I have fought for your right to make decisions about your body and your future. I refuse to accept a future in which my 22-year-old daughter has fewer rights than I did when I was her age, and I refuse to let radical extremists take control of women’s bodies,” the governor said.

“In the wake of the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision to reimpose a
near-total abortion ban from 1864, it is important for us to provide
accurate, up-to-date information to Arizonans,” Mayes said. “I am grateful for the partnership with Gov. Hobbs’
office as we compiled the resources and information available on this
website. We’ll continue working to keep Arizonans informed as the legal
landscape around reproductive care evolves in the weeks and months
ahead. And rest assured, I’ll do everything I can to prevent this
160-year-old law from ever taking effect.”

On April, 9 the state Supreme Court upheld a territorial-era statute that bars abortions except to save the life of the mother. The ban can only be enforced moving forward, but not retroactively, the court ruled in a 4-2 decision.

The court’s ruling immediately ignited fierce criticism from reproductive rights supporters and Democratic politicians, while some Republicans reversed their positions and said they opposed reinstating the ban. Meanwhile, anti-abortion activists welcomed the decision.

Hobbs called it a “dark day” for Arizona, and urged state lawmakers to repeal the Civil War-era statute that could mean prison time for anyone assisting in an abortion. Meanwhile, Mayes called the ruling “unconscionable and an affront to freedom.” 

“Make no mistake, by effectively striking down a law passed this century and replacing it with one from 160 years ago, the court has risked the health and lives of Arizonans,” Mayes said.

Vice President Kamala Harris came to Tucson just days after the court’s decision and laid the blame squarely on ex-president Donald Trump.

The court’s decision is yet more fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June 2022 to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections for abortions rights, as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that restated the right.

Previous state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, filed suit in 2022 to enforce the 1864 law. A state appeals court ruled that December that the 15-week limit was the current law, not the 19th-century statute.

On Wednesday, the state house voted to repeal the territorial ban and the bill has been sent to the state senate for approval, which could occur as early as May 1.

Without action, the state’s near-total ban on abortion will come into effect on June 8, Mayes wrote in a letter to hospitals and other medical providers.

“Absent any additional litigation or action by the Legislature, the status-quo remains in place concerning abortion law in our state until June 8, 2024,” Mayes wrote, adding her office “continues to explore all legal options available to prevent the 1864 near-total abortion ban from taking effect.” 

“But health care providers can be assured that because of a separate court order,” the territorial-era ban cannot be implemented under 45 days after the Arizona Supreme Court issues a final mandate in the case, Mayes said. 

In her letter, Mayes said the territorial law creates “a nightmare for providers, especially in the context of medical emergencies,” adding that if the law goes into effect, her office will provide guidance, telling providers how to comply with the law, “while recognizing the inherent challenges in construing such an archaic and vaguely written statute.”