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The Arizona Supreme Court allows a near-total abortion ban to take effect soon

After the Arizona Supreme Court allowed for near-total abortion ban, a group of abortion-rights protesters gathered outside the Arizona state Capitol in Phoenix on April 9, 2024.
Katherine Davis-Young
After the Arizona Supreme Court allowed for near-total abortion ban, a group of abortion-rights protesters gathered outside the Arizona state Capitol in Phoenix on April 9, 2024.

PHOENIX - Abortions will soon be outlawed in Arizona except in cases where a pregnant person's life is at risk. The state Supreme Court has ruled Arizona should follow a restrictive abortion law dating back to the 1860s.

Since Dec. 2022, Arizona doctors have been allowed to provide abortions up to 15 weeks into a pregnancy, based on a lower court's interpretation of state laws. But the state Supreme Court now says Arizona should follow alaw banning abortions in almost all cases. It makes no exceptions for rape or incest and makes performing an abortion punishable by two to five years in prison.

In the ruling, justices wrote that they will stay enforcement for 14 days, possibly longer, allowing abortions to continue during that time. Planned Parenthood Arizona, the state's largest abortion provider, says it plans to continue providing abortions as long as allowed.

An effort is already underway to put a measure on 2024 ballots that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.

Democratic President Joe Biden criticized Arizona's ban in a statement, calling on Congress to pass federal abortion protections.

"Millions of Arizonans will soon live under an even more extreme and dangerous abortion ban, which fails to protect women even when their health is at risk or in tragic cases of rape or incest," he said. "This ruling is a result of the extreme agenda of Republican elected officials who are committed to ripping away women's freedom."

Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to travel to Tucson on Friday for an event focusing on "reproductive freedom." It's Harris' second trip to Arizona this year to push for expanding abortion access.

Abortion across the country

The decision comes a little more than a week after the Florida Supreme Court decided to allow that state's week's 6-week ban to take effect May 1, and a day following former President Donald Trump's announcement that abortion should be left up to the states, angering some of his supporters ahead of 2024 election.

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade nearly two years ago and handed abortion decisions back to states resulting in a patchwork of laws across the country.

Fourteen states ban abortion with very limited exceptions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a group that supports abortion rights. Another 15 states protect abortion rights in various ways, according to Guttmacher.

This November, there are efforts in about a dozen states, including the one in Arizona, to add a question to voters' ballots supporting abortion rights.

Copyright 2024 KJZZ

Corrected: April 8, 2024 at 11:00 PM CDT
An earlier version of this story said that Arizona would not be able to enforce the state Supreme Court decision for 45 days. In fact, enforcement is stayed for 14 days, possibly longer.
Katherine Davis-Young
[Copyright 2024 KJZZ]