PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court has agreed to review a lower court’s conclusion that abortion doctors can't be prosecuted under a pre-statehood law that bans the procedure in nearly all cases.
The high court decided on Tuesday that it would review the Arizona Court of Appeals ruling that said doctors couldn’t be charged for performing abortions in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy because other Arizona laws passed over the years allow them to perform the procedure.
Abortions are currently allowed in Arizona in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy under a 2022 law.
Dr. Eric Hazelrigg, the medical director of anti-abortion counseling centers in metro Phoenix, had asked the Arizona Supreme Court to review the decision. Anti-abortion centers, often known as “crisis pregnancy centers,” aim to dissuade people from getting an abortion.
The 1864 law Hazelrigg wants the court to uphold imposes a near total ban on abortions, providing no exceptions for rape or incest and allowing abortions only if a mother’s life is in danger.
In late December, the state Court of Appeals said it wasn’t viewing the pre-statehood law in isolation of other statutes and concluded the state’s laws make it clear only doctors are permitted to perform abortions. Non-doctors would still be subject to prosecution under the old law, the appeals court said.
A court had blocked enforcement of the 1864 law shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court issued the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a constitutional right to an abortion. After the Supreme Court overturned the landmark decision in June, then-Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich succeeded in getting a state judge in Tucson to lift the court order blocking its enforcement.