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Arizona Supreme Court Upholds Life in Landmark Ruling

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In a 4-2 decision on Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court handed down a ruling that has reignited the debate surrounding abortion in the state. The legal ruling constitutionally allows for the enforcement of a strict abortion law, limiting the procedure to cases where the mother's life is allegedly at risk.

Photo credit: Maria Oswalt

Photo credit: Maria Oswalt

Highlights

By Catholic Online (California Network)
4/10/2024 (1 month ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Arizona, Supreme Court, Abortion law, Roe v. Wade, Reproductive rights, Legal controversy

Arizona's existing law already restricts abortion to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. However, an abortion ban dating back to 1864, long before Arizona's statehood in 1912, had remained unenforced due to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, which recognized a nonexistent constitutional "right" to abortion.

The landscape shifted favorably in June 2022 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, granting states the authority to enact direct bans on abortion. This decision prompted legal challenges to Arizona's old abortion ban, ultimately leading to the recent ruling by the state's highest court.

At the heart of the court's decision was the interpretation of the 15-week ban as a legislative restriction rather than an affirmation of the right to abortion. The majority opinion emphasized the legislature's prerogative to enact laws reflecting the will of the citizens, particularly in the absence of a constitutionally affirmed right to abortion.

Despite the court's ruling, enforcement of the 1864 law is temporarily delayed pending further legal proceedings. Critically, both Governor Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes have indicated their reluctance to prosecute violators of Arizona's abortion laws, citing their prosecutorial discretion.

Unsurprisingly, the ruling has sparked outrage among pro-abortion activists and Democratic leaders. Attorney General Kris Mayes condemned the decision as "unconscionable" and reaffirmed her stance against enforcing any abortion bans.

In an unsettling response to the ruling, anti-life advocates in Arizona are mobilizing efforts to introduce a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. This proposed amendment aims to establish a "fundamental right to abortion" in the state, potentially nullifying the impact of the court's decision.

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