U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes released an order Wednesday stating that Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) and House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Peoria) may intervene in a court case involving an abortion ban law enacted in 2021.
“When it became clear that Attorney General [Kris] Mayes [D] would not defend Arizona’s law prohibiting discriminatory abortions, the Legislature had to step in. I applaud the federal court’s order recognizing our legislative authority and granting our motion to intervene to defend the constitutionality of this law,” Toma said in a statement emailed to The Sun Times.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) granted Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s (R) request that pro-life law Senate Bill (SB) 1457 go into effect during litigation.
“I am pleased with today’s ruling and proud to defend Arizona’s law that protects the unborn,” Brnovich said. “The best of any society can be seen in how it treats its most vulnerable.”
The Arizona gubernatorial race is heating up in the Republican primary, as candidates attempt to distinguish themselves from each other. Former news anchor Kari Lake, who is leading in polling and has Donald Trump’s endorsement, has been calling out Karrin Taylor Robson’s record, referring to her as “Doug Ducey in a dress.” Lake is highly critical of Ducey’s record on COVID-19 restrictions, lack of action on border security, and, she says, being weak on election integrity.
The U.S. Supreme Court appears very likely to uphold Missouri’s 15-week abortion ban, which will gut a significant portion of Roe v. Wade, leaving much of abortion regulation to the individual states. Roe v. Wade prohibited the states from restricting abortion before fetal viability, around 23 weeks. If the Supreme Court rules for Mississippi in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it is expected that 26 states will then start restricting abortion as early as 15 weeks, including Arizona, which already has an old law on the books.
When Arizona was a territory, a law was passed in 1901 banning abortion. A.R.S. 13-3603 punishes the facilitation of an abortion with two to five years in prison. A woman who attempts to obtain one, whether successful or not, unless necessary to save her life, was penalized by one to five years in prison. That law was repealed this year by the Arizona Legislature.
With the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to block a Texas law banning abortions at six weeks when fetal heartbeats begin, Arizona’s Republican-dominated legislature is expected to enact a similar law. Until now, federal courts had struck down several laws regulating abortion enacted in Arizona. The unusual nature of the Texas law — allowing citizens to sue in order to enforce it instead of the state — is why a 5-4 majority on SCOTUS allowed the significant intrusion into Roe v. Wade.
Cathi Herrod, president of the conservative Center for Arizona Policy and a key architect of pro-life bills in the Arizona Legislature, said Arizona should copy the successful legislation in order to avoid being struck down. “The Texas heartbeat law is a road map to what other states can do,” she told Capitol Media Services. “The Texas heartbeat law is worthy of serious consideration by the Arizona Legislature.”