Arizona Republicans cheer Supreme Court ruling on abortion, Democrats express outrage
State will ban abortion, but conflicting laws make details uncertain
WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 24: Abortion rights activists react to the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case and erases a federal right to an abortion. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Reaction in Arizona to the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion broke down along predictable party lines, with Republicans celebrating and Democrats blasting the ruling.
“Roe v Wade was a poorly-reasoned ruling that had no Constitutional basis. The Supreme Court has made the right decision by finally overturning it and giving governing power back to the people and the states,” Gov. Doug Ducey said via Twitter. “I am proud that Arizona has been ranked the most pro-life state in the country. Here, we will continue to cherish life and protect it in every way possible.”
Both Democratic U.S. senators expressed outrage.
“A woman’s health care decisions should be between her, her family, and her doctor,” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema tweeted. “Today’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade endangers the health and wellbeing of women in Arizona and across America.”
Sen. Mark Kelly called the decision “a giant step backward for our country.”
“It’s just wrong that my granddaughter will have fewer freedoms than my grandmother did,” he tweeted. “Women deserve the right to make their own decisions about abortion. Period.”
The high court’s ruling Friday overturning the half-century-old Roe v. Wade decision throws the issue back to the states.
Reproductive rights advocates in Arizona say they will push a constitutional amendment to protect abortion.
Arizonans For Reproductive Freedom said they hope to collect at least 350,000 signatures by the July 7 deadline, less than two weeks away.
“GOP state legislators will cut off access to abortions in Arizona in the coming session when Roe is overturned,” said Dr. Victoria Fewell, an OB-GYN and chair of Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom. “They are out of sync with the vast majority of Arizonans who believe that the decision to carry a pregnancy to term belongs to individuals, not the state. This constitutional amendment will also proactively protect access to lifesaving reproductive healthcare and ensure medical providers will not risk imprisonment for treating their patients.”
What happens next in Arizona is somewhat unclear, but there are two laws on the books that would ban abortion. The older one, dating back more than a century into the territorial era, bans abortions completely and calls for jail time for doctors who perform the procedure.
In March, Ducey signed a bill into law that made it illegal for Arizona women to seek an abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Under Senate Bill 1164, doctors are prohibited from performing the procedure, even if the patient was a victim of incest or rape. Doctors could face up to 5 years in prison and revocation of their medical license.
“In Arizona, we know there is immeasurable value in every life — including preborn life. I believe it is each state’s responsibility to protect them,” Ducey wrote in a signing letter.
Ducey and sponsors of the new law argue that the 2022 legislation takes precedence, but some anti-abortion groups argue that the more stringent territorial law is still in effect since the new law did not explicitly repeal the old one. That could set up a court battle over exactly how strict the state’s ban will be.
“Roe had made Arizona’s prohibition on abortion unenforceable. That law should now be enforceable, prohibiting abortion in the state except to save the life of the mother,” said Cathi Herrod, president of Center for Arizona Policy, a pro-life group that supports the older law. “This will not only save innocent lives but will protect women from the undeniable emotional and physical harms of abortion.”
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
Arizona is among 23 states that had abortion bans in place, either older pre-Roe laws or newer ones passed anticipating the possibility that the Supreme Court could reverse itself some day on the issue.
Because of the huge size of the state, Arizona will be deeply affected by the Supreme Court decision, said Honest Arizona, a progressive advocacy group. Patients will need to travel long distances to access abortion services in other states.
The decision “is the result of elected Republicans placing their reactionary ideology over the well-being of those they were elected to serve. Women in Arizona already face life-threatening prohibitions to acquiring a medically necessary abortion,” the organization said in a statement after the court decision was released. “In a post-Roe Arizona, women, particularly women of color, will have to overcome the highest barriers in the nation to getting an abortion, the financial burden of (acquiring) care will rise, and their doctors will be made into criminals for providing medical care.”
Republican leaders, however, hailed the decision.
Rep. Paul Gosar wrote “Christ wins.”
“As amazing and historic as today is, there is still so much more work to be done to return this country to God,” he tweeted. “Thank the Lord for this day, and thank you President Trump for making this possible. Let’s keep our momentum and push ever forward. For Him.”
State Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, likewise credited the former president, who appointed three of the six conservatives on the Supreme Court.
“…President Trump cemented his legacy today. He will forever be the President who saved babies and restored Federalism,’’ she tweeted.
But Democrat Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is running for governor, expressed disappointment.
“Knowing that this day was coming doesn’t dull the pain,” Hobbs tweeted. “Without Roe’s protection for the right to choose, governors are now the final line of defense to protect access to safe and legal abortion. It’s never been more urgent to go vote for pro-choice champions at the state level.”
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.