Pima County judge says Arizona’s old abortion ban can go into effect

A Pima County judge says Arizona’s old abortion ban may go back into effect, increasing the risk of jail time for any doctor in the state who performs an abortion unless it’s necessary to save a patient’s life.

The ban’s origins date back more than a century, but the law was blocked by a Tucson judge in 1973 after the US Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade had enacted.

Prosecutor General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, moved to reinstate the ban over the summer after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe in June.

Opponents of the ban argued it conflicted with a long list of other abortion laws the state has enacted over the past half-century.

But Judge Kellie Johnson, a former prosecutor who was appointed to the bench by Gov. Doug Ducey, dismissed that argument in their decision Fridayand wrote that the old ban was blocked only because of Roe.

“While there may be legal issues that the parties seek to resolve with respect to Arizona’s abortion laws, those issues are not for this court to decide,” the judge wrote.

Brnovich hailed the decision, writing in a statement that the judge created “clarity and unity on this important issue.”

The ruling will significantly limit access to abortion in Arizona, where litigation over the ban and conflicting interpretations of state law have already created uncertainty for patients.

A spokesman for Planned Parenthood said the organization will “pause abortion treatment at all health centers in the state.

But opponents of the ban signaled they could appeal.

“Of course we are very disappointed. We had hoped for a different outcome and will review available legal remedies,” said Pima County Attorney Laura Conover, who opposed the ban in court. “A near-total ban on abortion procedures puts people at risk.”

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