1864 Abortion Ban In Arizona Goes Into Effect Due To Judge’s Ruling

One judge out in Arizona officially ruled that a 19th-century ban on abortions for the state will officially go back into effect.

As part of the Thursday ruling, Kellie Johnson, a judge for the Arizona Superior Court, stated that the near-total abortion ban for Arizona, which was first set up back in 1864, will go back into effect in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling which sent the power to deal with issues surrounding abortion back to the states in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The ruling from the judge effectively overturned a decision from the state court back in 1973 which suspended the law in the wake of Roe v. Wade going into effect.

The law from 1864, which was officially modified to use more streamlined language back in 1901, outright bans the administration of abortion procedures or all abortifacient drugs. “A person who provides, supplies or administers to a pregnant woman, or procures such woman to take any medicine, drugs or substance, or uses or employs any instrument or other means whatever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of such woman, unless it is necessary to save her life, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than two years nor more than five years,” reads the law.

While speaking about the legal history surrounding the case, Johnson expressed that the law was made unconstitutional via a trial back in 1972, but that particular decision was officially overturned via an appeals court in 1973. In just under three weeks since the ruling from the higher court, the Supreme Court issued the ruling in Roe v. Wade; the appeals court “vacated its opinion on the sole and express grounds of the binding nature of the United States Supreme Court decisions,” explained Johnson. The trial judge then issued the ruling that the law was unconstitutional.

Over the years following, the legislature of the state of Arizona pushed through a number of laws that set up regulations surrounding abortion. The most recent of which, Arizona Governor signed a law back in March which outright banned abortion after the 15-week point. However, the law does not go far rnough to overrule the ban set up in 1964. Due to the decision concerning Dobbs, Mark Brnovich, the Attorney General of Arizona, put forth a motion to request relief from judgment in order to set the ban back into effect. A response was pushed forth by Planned Parenthood, making the argument that the court should refrain from setting the old law back into effect but instead put forth a ruling which modified the law in order to “harmonize” with the more recent laws put into effect. The request from Planned Parenthood was refused, highlighting that “[t]he controlling Complaint seeks relief solely on constitutional grounds,” and that “[t]he judgment entered in 1973 was based solely on those constitutional grounds,” which meant that the modifying of that judgment would be quite improper.

“The court finds that because the legal basis for the judgment entered in 1973 has now been overruled, it must vacate the judgment in its entirety,” finished Johnson via her ruling. “[T]he Second Amended Declaratory Judgment and Injunction signed by the Court on March 27, 1973 … no longer has any prospective application.”

Brnovich lauded the new ruling as an overt win for life within the state. “A Pima County judge lifted an injunction that was placed on Arizona’s abortion statute,” explained Brnovich in a release. “We applaud the court for upholding the will of the legislature and providing clarity and uniformity on this important issue. I have and will continue to protect the most vulnerable Arizonans.”

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