Arizona to hear arguments on 1864 'near-total' abortion law

 December 13, 2023

In the wake of the reversal of Roe v. Wade last year, many states were able to determine right away where they stood on the ban.

However, Arizona had a unique situation in the wake of the ruling that has forced it to reach back some 159 years to a state Supreme Court decision on a total abortion ban as lawmakers weren't sure which abortion laws had set the precedent.

The Arizona Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on whether or not to reinstate the 1864 abortion ban, described as a "near-total" ban on the practice.

Currently, the state's abortion laws ban the practice after 15 weeks and involve a strict set of protocols, including two appointments -- first a counseling session and then a waiting period of at least 24 hours until the person can receive the abortion, should they choose to follow through.

State legislators have grappled with which abortion law should be the standard in the state.

ABC News noted:

One option was the 15-week ban, which was signed into law by then Gov. Doug Ducey in 2022 and enforced after Roe fell. The other, from 1864, when Arizona was still a territory, would essentially ban abortion in the state.

Under the 1864 abortion ban, anyone who performs an abortion or induces an abortion would face prison time. There are no rape or incest exceptions to the law -- with the only exception being that the mother's life is in imminent danger.

The 1864 law was in play until it was ultimately blocked in 1972 after Planned Parenthood Center of Tucson sued to have it blocked. The pro-abortion outfit won the suit after arguing that the law was a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The outlet further explained:

In December 2022, the Arizona Court of Appeals "harmonized" the two laws, writing in an opinion that the 1864 law would only apply to non-physicians and that doctors could follow the newer law.

The Arizona Supreme Court will now determine which law the state will follow, or if it will officially combine the two laws into something else.

Planned Parenthood Arizona isn't happy with the idea of the law being brought back, and it issued a statement regarding the possibility.

"A near-total ban on abortion in our state would be catastrophic to the well-being of our communities and deeply out of touch with the will of the majority of Arizonans," Dr. Jill Gibson, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said in a statement this week. "Arizonans deserve the freedom to make their own decisions about their reproductive health."

Only time will tell how the state's high court decides.