OB/GYN asks Arizona Supreme Court to lift injunction on pre-statehood pro-life law


The head of a pregnancy resource center (PRC) in Arizona is asking the state to overturn an injunction on a pro-life law that was in force prior to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. 

Dr. Eric Hazelrigg and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a request for the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s ruling last year.

“Arizona is eager to preserve the innocent lives of children and restore dignity to women and the medical profession,” stated Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life, according to a press release. “Since Attorney General Mayes has said she refuses to defend the state’s duly enacted pro-life law, we urge the Arizona Supreme Court to grant our petition for review and uphold this critical law that protects the lives of mothers and their children.” 

The pre-statehood law reads in part, “A person who provides, supplies or administers to a pregnant woman […] any medicine, drugs or substance, or […] instrument or other means whatever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of such woman, unless it is necessary to save her life, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison […].” This law was blocked after the passage of Roe v. Wade, but last year after the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health decision, then-Attorney General Mark Brnovich successfully sought to have the injunction on the law lifted. 

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The 2022 court of appeals ruling decided that the pre-statehood law restricting abortions doesn’t apply to physicians. The decision stated that the law had to be read in the context of subsequent laws, and since the legislature had passed “a complex regulatory scheme to achieve its intent to restrict — but not to eliminate — elective abortions […] reading [the pre-statehood law] to impose criminal liability for physicians providing those restricted abortions would eliminate the elective abortions the legislature merely intended to regulate under [other pro-life laws].”

But Hazelrigg and the ADF argued that was nonsensical, and that there was no conflict between the pre-statehood law and later laws – such as one passed shortly before the Dobbs decision which overturned Roe v. Wade –  protecting preborn children from abortion after 15 weeks. In fact, there are  “multiple laws forbidding physician-performed abortions,” they wrote in their appeal. “The Legislature has criminalized some of the same conduct through multiple laws. That’s not unusual or unconstitutional.”

“Arizonans deserve to have their laws fully enforced,” the ADF filing reads. “They made their voice heard at the ballot box—electing Legislature after Legislature to protect life as much as possible. And lawmakers delivered. Then the appeals court rewrote [the state’s pro-life law], doing with a pen what abortion proponents could not do with a vote. That’s not how a republic works. Only this Court can fix it.”

Planned Parenthood Arizona appears to be using any excuse to keep committing abortions in the state, despite the intent of most Arizonans. “In December 2022, the Arizona Court of Appeals correctly harmonized all of the state legislature’s laws, and under that interpretation, abortion has been and continues to remain legal in Arizona,” said the CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, Brittany Fonteno, according to the Associated Press. “As we have said time and time again, this archaic abortion ban the intervener (Hazelrigg) is trying to revive is cruel, harmful, and unpopular with the majority of Arizonans.”

Pro-life organizations are celebrating this step. “The fight to protect unborn life and women from the harms of abortion does not end with an Arizona Court of Appeals ruling,” said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, according to AZ Central. “I am confident Arizona’s pre-Roe law limiting abortion to cases where the mother’s life is at risk will be upheld by Arizona’s Supreme Court.”

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