As abortion battle rages in Florida, Arizona Supreme Court upholds ban from Civil War era

Arizona's ruling sparked anger among Democrats and celebration from Christian conservatives.

The Arizona Supreme Court upheld the state’s Civil War-era abortion ban in a ruling this week as President Joe Biden’s campaign decried the decision “will send shockwaves” nationwide.

In a 4-2 vote, the Republican-controlled court ruled Arizona must follow the 1864 law banning all abortions except to save a mother’s life.

“In light of this Opinion, physicians are now on notice that all abortions, except those necessary to save a woman’s life, are illegal … and that additional criminal and regulatory sanctions may apply to abortions performed after fifteen weeks’ gestation,” the state Supreme Court’s majority opinion said.

Planned Parenthood fought in court against the 1864 ban, which doesn’t make exceptions for rape or incest and bans abortions from the moment of conception unless to save a mother’s life. The law, created before Arizona was a state, was never repealed.

Abortion rights advocates argued that the old law on the books has been surpassed by more modern rules, such as the state’s 2022 law banning abortion after the 15th week of pregnancy.

Arizona’s court decision comes as Floridians will vote on a constitutional amendment for abortion rights in the November election. Florida’s Supreme Court ruled the issue can go on the ballot, but also said the state’s six-week abortion ban can go into effect.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat who supports abortion rights, called the court’s decision “unconscionable and an affront to freedom.”

“It is one of the worst decisions in the history of the Arizona Supreme Court, if not the worst,” said Mayes who added no women or doctors will be prosecuted under this “draconian law as long as I’m Attorney General.”

Mayes pledged to “fight like hell” for residents’ rights and against the court’s decision as she spoke during a press conference after the ruling.

Conservative Christian advocates Alliance Defending Freedom praised the court’s decision.

“Life is a human right, and today’s decision allows the state to respect that right and fully protect life again — just as the legislature intended,” said the organization’s senior counsel Jake Warner in a statement after Tuesday’s ruling. “Life begins at conception.”

Biden’s campaign said Arizona’s decision is “alarming and will send shockwaves throughout this crucial swing state and the country,” according to a press release.

Biden’s campaign said the majority of Arizonians believe abortion should be legal “in most or all cases,” citing a 2023 PRRI survey.

“Yet this new ban could criminalize almost all abortion care in the state, put women’s lives at risk, and threaten doctors with prosecution and jail time. And it’s all because of Donald Trump,” the campaign said, adding that Trump, if elected, will push to ban abortion nationally.

Trump campaign National Press Secretary Karoline Leavitt told NBC News, “President Trump could not have been more clear. These are decisions for people of each state to make.”

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • PeterH

    April 10, 2024 at 1:12 pm

    Terminating a pregnancy is a private matter between a woman and her doctor …. no one else. Since Reagan aligned the Republican Party with fake Christian groups and evangelical money scammer and grifters ….. today’s GOP has used woman’s health concerns as a wedge issue to divide the American electorate.
    In order to win the 2024 election, Trump, DeSantis and his ilk in Congress and elsewhere would now like to distance themselves from the very stance they have taken for 50 years! Voters need to push back. It’s unfair that women need to travel to blue states, Cuba or Mexico to seek healthcare!

    Republicans are America’s worst enemy!
    Vote all Republicans out of office!

  • Dont Say FLA

    April 11, 2024 at 6:21 pm

    Can’t anybody find a pre-white-people law in the place today called Arizona that says abortion is legal? If the SCOTSAZ can go back prior to Arizona statehood to find a law they do like, they opened the door wide to pre-statehood laws they don’t like. Buncha morons.

  • Arizona

    April 19, 2024 at 1:06 pm

    Absolutely outlaw abortion in both states

Comments are closed.


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