(The Center Square) – Arizona is one of 26 states that have, or will enact, a broad restriction on abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision that barred states from blocking abortion procedures.
In the court’s 6-3 Dobbs v. Jackson decision, Justice Samuel Alito criticized Roe as “egregiously wrong” and made clear that the Constitution didn’t protect abortion.
“Finally, the Court considers whether a right to obtain an abortion is part of a broader entrenched right that is supported by other precedents,” the ruling said. “The Court concludes the right to obtain an abortion cannot be justified as a component of such a right. Attempts to justify abortion through appeals to a broader right to autonomy and to define one’s ‘concept of existence’ prove too much.”
Arizona has an abortion ban that predates statehood. The Comstock Law of 1901 codified a territorial ban on advertising, causing or performing abortions anywhere in the state. With Roe overturned, state Republicans say the pre-Roe law is back in effect. It bans most abortions, unless the procedure is necessary to save a mother’s life. The state changed the law last year to move the punishment from the mother to the practicing physician.
However, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich released a statement Friday saying the situation is still developing.
“We understand this is an important issue for so many people, and they are seeking clarity,” spokeswoman Brittni Thomason said. “However, it is a developing situation for our country and our state. The Attorney General’s Office may be called upon by public officials to provide formal opinions on some of these topics, and I don’t want to get out in front of that process. What I can tell you is the Arizona Legislature passed an identical law to the one upheld in Dobbs, which will take effect in approximately 90 days.”
Thomason said the AG’s office is actively reviewing the 213-page decision that was released Friday morning.
She references a law Gov. Doug Ducey signed in April that bans abortions after 15 weeks gestation with certain exceptions. That law will take effect 90 days after the current legislative session ends.
“Roe v Wade was a poorly-reasoned ruling that had no Constitutional basis,” Ducey said Friday. “The Supreme Court has made the right decision by finally overturning it and giving governing power back to the people and the states.”
Democrats vowed to fight state restrictions.
“This horrific news will not slow or lessen our fight for families. Right now Arizonans are going through periods of anger, sadness, and frustration, in response to this brutal attack on our freedoms. Ultimately, those emotions are fueling our continued fight for our most basic rights.” said Arizona Democratic Party Chair Raquel Terán.
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, issued a statement lauding the decision.
“Today, life wins! Roe will not see 50 and we are a better nation for it,” she said. “The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and again allow elected state lawmakers to decide abortion law rights a deadly, decades long wrong.”
As previously reported in The Center Square, experts anticipate that an overturn of Roe v. Wade could lead to thousands of pregnant patients seeking abortion access in other states.
The Guttmacher Institute estimated earlier this year that California could see a nearly 3,000% increase in people seeking an abortion since their closest abortion provider would be in the Golden State – an increase of 46,000 to 1.4 million people. An outsized portion of those new procedures would likely be from women crossing state lines from Arizona, the only neighboring state to California that would have a restrictive abortion law.
In anticipation of Roe being overturned, the Legislature appropriated $10 million to expand access for Medicaid members to OBGYNs. A release from Senate Republicans estimated 50% of births in Arizona are from mothers on Medicaid.
A report from Stacker ranked Arizona as the “most-affected” state in the nation now that Roe was overturned. By their estimation, the nearest abortion clinic would be 247 miles away.
Cole Lauterbach is a managing editor for The Center Square covering the western United States. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.
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