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AG says Arizona territorial ban on abortion now law of the land 

By: - June 29, 2022 4:24 pm

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, shown here at his inaguration in 2019, said Wednesday that a territorial law banning abortion is now in effect. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy/Arizona Mirror

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Wednesday that a 158-year old Arizona law declaring that anyone who facilitates a procedure that causes a miscarriage or abortion can face a prison sentence between two to five years is now in effect and effectively bans abortion in the state.

“Our office has concluded that the Arizona legislature has made its intentions clear regarding abortions laws,” Brnovich’s office said in a Tweeted out statement. “(The law) is back in effect and will not be repealed in 90 days by SB1164. We will soon be asking the court to vacate the injunction which was put in place following Roe v. Wade in light of the Dobbs decision earlier this month.”

Lawmakers this year passed a law banning abortions after 15 weeks, the bill referenced by Brnovich, but that legislation was designed to go into effect only if Roe was not overturned.

The law states that a “person who provides, supplies or administers” 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.”

The law has no exception for abortion in cases of rape or incest but interim Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell has said she is unlikely to prosecute cases of survivors of rape and incest. The law effectively bans abortion in the state of Arizona except for in cases where the woman’s life is in danger. Some have read the law as a possible way to ban Plan B and inuterine devices due to its plain language, but Jodi Liggett, founder of the Arizona Center for Women’s Advancement, told the Arizona Mirror that “there is no legal authority for such an assertion and that medical experts have explained over and over that the mechanism by which these methods work is to prevent conception in the first place.”

The state’s law banning abortions was created by the first territorial Arizona legislature in 1864.

***UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a comment from Jodi Liggett about claims the law will also affect use of birth control methods.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.