Arizona’s 15-week abortion ban coming as other ban looms

A new Arizona law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy takes effect Saturday as a judge weighs a request to allow a pre-statehood law that outlaws nearly all abortions to be enforced.

The 15-week law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by GOP Gov. Doug Ducey in March was enacted in hopes the U.S. Supreme Court would pare back limits on abortion regulations. It mirrored a Mississippi law that the high court was considering at the time that cut about nine weeks off the previous threshold.

Instead, the conservative justices who hold a court majority completely overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that said women have a constitutional right to end a pregnancy. Now states are allowed to make all abortions illegal, and a dozen have while others have enacted new limits.

Abortion foes celebrated the 15-week ban’s passage. Ducey, who signed every abortion restriction bill that reached his desk during his eight years in office, also cheered the 15-week ban.

“In Arizona, we know there is immeasurable value in every life – including preborn life,” Ducey said in his March 30 signing letter. “I believe it is each state’s responsibility to protect them.”

The same day he signed the abortion ban, Ducey also approved legislation banning transgender women and girls from playing on women’s sports teams. It also takes effect Saturday, along with most other laws passed this year.

Meanwhile, abortion providers await a decision by a judge in Tucson who is considering a request from Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich to lift an injunction in place since just after Roe was decided that blocked enforcement of the pre-statehood law.

Judge Kellie Johnson said during a hearing last month that she would rule on Sept. 20 at the earliest. Planned Parenthood and its Arizona affiliate had urged her not to allow the old law to be enforced against medical providers and instead allow the host of other abortion restrictions passed since Roe was overturned to stand.

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Ducey has a similar take. He has argued that the 15-week ban he signed takes precedence over the old law, which was first enacted as part of the set of laws known as the “Howell Code” adopted by 1st Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1864.

Despite his conflict with Brnovich over whether the new or old laws take precedence, Ducey did not send his in-house lawyers to argue for his position at the Aug. 19 hearing.

The 15-week law will only effect about 5% of the abortions performed in the state, according to statistics in the previous three yearly reports compiled by the Arizona Department of Health Services. The state averaged just under 13,000 abortions per year during that time.

But combined with a law passed last year that bans abortions because a fetus has a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome, the restrictions add up, said Dr. DeShawn Taylor, who provides abortion services at her clinic in Glendale.

“People forget that these percentages are actual people,” Taylor said in a Tuesday interview. …read more

Source:: Headlines News4jax

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