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Arizona Court of Appeals Temporarily Blocks Old Arizona Abortion Ban


The Hill (Jared Gans) reports:

The Arizona Court of Appeals has temporarily blocked the state's more-than-a-century-old abortion ban [which bans all abortions "unless it is necessary to save [the woman's] life"] from being enforced after a judge had previously ruled it could be….

The abortion ban was originally enacted in the 1860s, before Arizona became a state. The law was in place until 1973, when the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision protected abortion access nationally. The injunction on the ban was put in place following the decision….

Arizona's legislature had passed other less restrictive bans since Roe was decided, including a 15-week ban … [enacted] before the Dobbs ruling.

Planned Parenthood of Arizona had argued that the subsequent laws should supersede the total ban, but the state judge ruled that Roe was the only reason the injunction was in place, so the law could be enforced….

The Court of Appeals' temporary decision (Planned Parenthood Arizona, Inc. v. Brnovich), written by Presiding Judge Peter Eckerstrom, joined by Chief Judge Garye L. Vasquez and Judge Peter Swann, reasoned:

Planned Parenthood Arizona, Inc., has demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits on its claim that the trial court erred by limiting its analysis of appellee State of Arizona's motion to set aside the Second Amended Declaratory Judgment and Injunction … to the constitutional viability of A.R.S. § 13-3603 [the old statute] in light of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, 142 S. Ct. 2228 (2022), and in refusing to consider the statutes implemented since the imposition of the injunction, including A.R.S. §§ 36-2321 to 36-2326. Arizona courts have a responsibility to attempt to harmonize all of this state's relevant statutes.

The court further concludes the balance of hardships weigh strongly in favor of granting the stay, given the acute need of healthcare providers, prosecuting agencies, and the public for legal clarity as to the application of our criminal laws….

A telephonic scheduling conference shall be conducted before Presiding Judge Peter Eckerstrom on Tuesday, October 11, 2022, at 2:30 p.m., to determine whether this matter should be accelerated and to set a briefing schedule.

Congratulations to D. Andrew Gaona and Kristen Yost (Coppersmith Brockelman PLC) and Diana O. Salgado, Sara MacDougall, Catherine Peyton Humphreville (Planned Parenthood Federation of America), who represent Planned Parenthood Arizona.