Risk of criminal prosecution has forced physicians to suspend abortion services in Arizona
Phoenix, AZ — Today, the Supreme Court issued a ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade — the landmark decision recognizing the constitutional right to abortion nearly 50 years ago. While abortion is still legal in Arizona, this decision will have a devastating impact in our state, where conflicting laws have sown confusion and puts providers and patients at risk.
Just this year, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1164, 15-week ban that will take effect in September 2022, 91 days after this year’s legislative session ends. In addition, an Arizona law passed prior to Roe v. Wade could effectively ban abortion in the state by criminalizing providers. Although this law was blocked by the courts and has been unenforceable for almost half a century, legal action may be taken to try to reinstate it
“Today’s ruling has thrown abortion access into limbo and providers have been forced to stop medical abortion care to avoid the risk of prosecution,” said Jared Keenan, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Abortion remains legal in Arizona, but anti-abortion politicians have passed laws that have chipped away at abortion access for years. As we navigate the next couple of days, we will continue to explore every legal avenue available to defend abortion access in our state.”
Half the states in the country are expected to ban abortion, denying the 36 million women and other people who can become pregnant the fundamental right to decide for themselves whether and when to become a parent. That could include more than 1.3 million people who can become pregnant in Arizona.
“With today’s decision, the Supreme Court has turned back the clock nearly 50 years on our fundamental rights. However, Arizona voters can change the course of history by electing candidates down the ballot who will defend access to abortion care,” said Jennifer Allen, Executive Director at the ACLU of Arizona. “In fact, it’s prosecutors who are on the frontlines of enforcing these backwards laws. That’s why the Maricopa County Attorney race is critical this year — voters in the state’s largest county have the chance to elect someone who will protect our rights and not prosecute people for seeking or providing an abortion.”
Decades of restrictive laws have already caused many Arizonans to experience severe obstacles to abortion care. Banning abortion even further will leave many with no other option than to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth. Forcing someone to carry a pregnancy against their will has life-altering consequences, including enduring serious health risks from continued pregnancy and childbirth, making it harder to escape poverty, derailing their education and career plans, and making it more difficult to leave an abusive partner.
“We cannot afford to stay silent, and the ACLU of Arizona will be working closely with partners to mobilize our community against anti-abortion attacks,” continued Allen. “Make no mistake: the Supreme Court’s ruling is an unprecedented attack on the rights of all people who can become pregnant, but the fight to defend access to abortion is far from over.”