Arizona court says Civil War-era law can be used to ban abortions

By John Mercury April 10, 2024

Arizona is to ban nearly all abortions after its supreme court ruled a law from the Civil War-era could be enforced.

It means an 1864 law criminalising abortions except when a mother’s life is at risk – with no exceptions for pregnancies due to rape or incest – will become enforceable.

Doctors who perform the procedure could be sentenced to between two to five years in prison.

Democrats and President Joe Biden blamed the ruling on Donald Trump, who appointed three US Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn the universal right to an abortion in 2022.

Mr Biden said on X the “cruel” ban was “a result of the extreme agenda of Republican elected officials who are committed to ripping away women’s freedom”.

“Today’s decision to reimpose a law from a time when Arizona wasn’t a state, the Civil War was raging, and women couldn’t even vote will go down in history as a stain on our state,” said Kris Mayes, the state’s Democrat attorney general.

Fourteen other states have already banned abortion at all stages of pregnancy following the 2022 ruling that overturned the landmark Roe v Wade case.

In 1973, a lower Arizona court blocked the Civil War-era law, and in 2019 another law superseded it and instead restricted abortion after 15 weeks.

However, after Roe v Wade was overturned, a Republican attorney general pushed to end the injunction on the 1864 law, sparking a row over which law was enforceable.

Arizona attorney general Kris Mayes says the courts' decision was shameful. Pic: AP
Arizona attorney general Kris Mayes said the court’s decision was shameful. Pic: AP

In Tuesday’s 4-2 decision, Arizona’s supreme court said the current 15-week ban was “predicated entirely on the existence of a federal constitutional right to an abortion since disclaimed”.

It said there was now “no provision in federal or state law prohibiting” the 1864 ban.

Read more from Sky News:
Cameron holds talks with Trump as part of US visit
Police probe connection between three deaths including baby

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

June 2022: Crowds react to loss of constitutional abortion right

Democrats in Arizona and across the US have vowed to fight to enshrine abortion rights.

Campaigners in the state are already pushing for an amendment on the issue to be added to election ballots in November.

However, the Center for Arizona Policy, a group that supports anti-abortion proposals, said the state’s court had made the right decision.

It said the ruling “acknowledges the sanctity of all human life and spares women the physical and emotional harms of abortion”.

The White House said Kamala Harris, the vice president, will travel to Arizona this week to discuss abortion rights.

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp
Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Tap here

Donald Trump, who will go up against Joe Biden in November’s election, said this week that he believes abortion laws should be left to individual states.

He said he was “proud” of the overturning of Roe v Wade, but that he believes abortions should be allowed in cases of rape, incest, and when a mother’s life is at risk.


Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *