Earlier this month, an appeals court blocked Arizona’s pro-life law protecting nearly all preborn children from abortion, allowing abortion facilities to reopen. With that news, Planned Parenthood is once again committing abortions there.
Planned Parenthood has four facilities in Arizona and announced it is resuming abortions in all of them. “As of today, we are now booking appointments for abortion services throughout the state of Arizona,” Planned Parenthood Arizona President and CEO Brittany Fonteno said at a press conference, adding, “Abortion is temporarily legal in Arizona. This does not mean the fight is over. This means we are continuing to fight every day. We won’t stop fighting for our patients.”
Earlier, Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson ruled that an 1864 law, which protects almost all preborn children from abortion, takes precedence over a newer law, which protects preborn children from abortion only after 15 weeks. The newer law, signed by Governor Doug Ducey, was passed before the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. With the fall of Roe v. Wade, there was confusion over which law would take effect. Though the 15-week law specifically did not repeal the older law, there was also no trigger in place to repeal the 15-week law once Roe was overturned.
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Planned Parenthood Arizona quickly began battling to have Johnson’s rule put on hold, which it eventually was able to do. Presiding Judge Peter J. Eckerstrom wrote that Planned Parenthood was likely to win in future court cases, and that Johnson should have considered the pro-life laws passed recently. “Arizona courts have a responsibility to attempt to harmonize all of this state’s relevant statutes,” he said, 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.”
Meanwhile, Attorney General Mark Brnovich has promised not to enforce the 1864 law until 2023. Under an agreement with Planned Parenthood, abortions can continue being committed until “at least 45 days after a final ruling in the original case.”
Still, the pro-life movement in Arizona has said they will continue fighting to protect preborn lives. “It’s important that we are out here to pray, and to witness, and to offer people hope who are often in situations that are desperate,” Mike Phelan, who works with the Diocese of Phoenix, said.
Ellen Sweeney, co-Leader of 40 Days for Life, agreed. “I’m a retired social worker so I’m here to offer help to people,” she said. “There is help that many women don’t know.”