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How will Arizona's near-total ban on abortion be enforced?

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs signed an executive order last year giving all the power to enforce abortion laws to the state attorney general.
How will Arizona's near-total ban on abortion be enforced?
Posted at 8:21 AM, Apr 10, 2024

There are lots of questions about how Arizona’s Supreme Court ruling and near-total ban on abortion will be enforced.

Under the ruling, there is a 14-day stay followed by another 45-day delay in enforcement stemming from another court case. After that, it’s unclear how or if the law will be enforced.

Democratic Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes made clear Tuesday she will not prosecute any abortion cases, even though the 1864 law reinstated by the state Supreme Court mandates prison time for anyone providing an abortion.

“Let me be completely clear: As long as I am attorney general of the state of Arizona, no woman or doctor will be prosecuted under this draconian law,” Mayes told a crowd of people outside the Arizona Capitol.

SEE MORE: Abortions increase in 2023 despite Roe v. Wade reversal

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs signed an executive order last year giving all the power to enforce abortion laws to the state attorney general and essentially stripping the state’s 15 elected county attorneys of their authority to prosecute abortion cases. But county attorneys could challenge the order.

“What I have said and what the governor has said in her executive order is that … the authority for prosecuting abortion sits now in my office, where it belongs,” Mayes said.

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell issued a statement about the ruling Tuesday, urging the governor and legislators to delay enforcement of the decision.

"Today's Supreme Court decision is a serious one that needs to be addressed by lawmakers,” Mitchell said in the statement.

Mitchell also said her office has not received any requests, in almost two years, to prosecute an abortion case.

"It is important to remember that under Arizona's law, women who get an abortion cannot be prosecuted. Today's ruling does not change that: women cannot and will not be prosecuted for receiving an abortion,” Mitchell also wrote in the statement.

This story was originally published by Jennifer Kovaleski at Scripps News Phoenix.


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