Arizona Supreme Court Restores Civil War-Era Abortion Ban

After nearly two years of legal battle, Arizona’s abortion dispute came to a close on April 9 when the state Supreme Court upheld a pre-statehood ban on the majority of abortions, declaring it legally binding statewide.

The law from 1864 in Arizona bans all abortions except those done to protect the mother’s life.

The 4–2 decision overturns a previous ruling by a lower court which argued that a 15-week abortion limit established in 2022 takes precedence over the older law’s abortion regulations.

The Arizona Appeals Court previously suggested that the two laws could be “harmonized”, allowing abortions up to 15 weeks, but also permitting the prosecution of non-physicians who perform abortions in the state.

“We conclude that [the 2022 law] does not create a right to, or otherwise provide independent statutory authority for, an abortion that repeals or restricts [the 1864 ban], but rather is predicated entirely on the existence of a federal constitutional right to an abortion since disclaimed by Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” the court wrote in its majority opinion.

“Absent the federal constitutional abortion right, and because [the 2022 law] does not independently authorize abortion, there is no provision in federal or state law prohibiting [the 1864 ban’s] operation,” the court added, holding that the ban is now enforceable.

Following the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the pre-statehood abortion ban, reactions have been swift and divided.

Pro-life advocates celebrated the ruling as a victory for the sanctity of life and a step towards protecting the unborn. They argue that the decision aligns with Arizona’s long-standing values and respects the rights of the unborn child.

Many conservative lawmakers expressed support for the court’s decision, emphasizing the importance of preserving traditional moral values and defending the rights of the most vulnerable members of society.

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By Hunter Fielding
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