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Arizona prosecutors are confused about how to handle abortion law

By Alisa Reznick
Published: Tuesday, October 4, 2022 - 12:25pm
Updated: Tuesday, October 4, 2022 - 12:26pm

Prosecutors in Arizona say they’re confused how to follow the law when it comes to abortion — especially after a Pima County Superior Court ruled that a pre-statehood abortion ban was enforceable. 

The pre-statehood law bans all abortions except to save the life of the mother. 

But another, newer law banning abortion after 15-weeks went into effect just a day after Judge Kellie Johnson made her ruling in Tucson.

Phoenix attorney and abortion rights activist Chris Love is the immediate past board chair of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

"I think there’s probably even more confusion after the ruling now that are in place, that are kind of competing with each other," she said.

Two young people stand looking at each other, one holds a sign made out of cardboard with permanent marker spelling out: This body is NOT a political battleground.
Amber Victoria Singer/KJZZ
Two young protesters stand looking at each other at the Arizona State Capitol on Friday, June 24, 2022.

In the wake of the ruling, some prosecutors, like Rachel Mitchell in Maricopa County, have said they won’t prosecute women for having abortions. Love says under current law, that's not what's in question.

"They’re saying that they won’t prosecute victims of rape or incest, or prosecute pregnant folks, isn’t enough, right? There needs to be an inclusion of providers," she said.

That’s because under the pre-statehood law, abortion providers are the ones who face jail time. Neither it nor the 15-week ban criminalizes people getting abortions.

In a report from AZ Big Media this week, prosecutors in Pima and Coconino counties said they’re unsure how to enforce the law. Smaller county prosecutors say they aren’t as concerned because they don’t have abortion clinics. 

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Fronteras AbortionLaw Enforcement