Arizona appeals court blocks pro-life law, siding with Planned Parenthood

Texas, North Dakota

The Arizona Court of Appeals has issued an order blocking a previous court decision allowing a law which protected nearly all preborn children from abortion to take effect.

Previously, Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson ruled that an 1864 law takes precedence over a newer law. The 1864 law protects virtually all preborn children from abortion, but a newer law was passed earlier this year, before the Supreme Court released their decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The newer law, signed by Governor Doug Ducey, protects preborn children from abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. After Roe v. Wade fell, due to the Dobbs decision, there was confusion over which law would take effect. The 15-week law specifically did not repeal the older law, but there was also no trigger in place to repeal the 15-week law once Roe was overturned.

Planned Parenthood Arizona asked Johnson to put her ruling on hold, which she refused to do. Yet the appeals court sided with Planned Parenthood, blocking Johnson’s order that had allowed the 1864 law to take effect. Abortion can now be committed again in the state of Arizona. According to a report from USA Today, “The procedure will presumably still be subject to a newer law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.”

READ: Poll: Majority of Americans want abortion banned after 15 weeks

Presiding Judge Peter J. Eckerstrom said Planned Parenthood was likely to win in further court cases, and that Johnson should have considered more thoroughly the pro-life laws passed in recent decades. “Arizona courts have a responsibility to attempt to harmonize all of this state’s relevant statutes,” he wrote, adding that the stay was necessary “given the acute need of healthcare providers, prosecuting agencies, and the public for legal clarity as to the application of our criminal laws.”

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, celebrated the ruling in a statement. “Today’s decision provides a desperately needed sense of security for both our patients and providers,” she said. “We can now breathe a sigh of relief and serve patients. While the fight isn’t over, for now, Arizonans will once again be able to make their own decisions about their bodies, health care decisions, and futures.”

A spokesperson for Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, however, said they will continue fighting to have the law enforced.

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