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A Arizona judge lifted an injunction on the enforcement of a 1973 state law, leaving the state attorney general free to prosecute abortion providers, banning abortions in the state for pregnant women over the age of 15 weeks.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovitch announced the decision on Friday, claiming it as a victory for successfully defending life in the state.
“A Pima County judge lifted an injunction that had been placed on Arizona Abortion Law“Brnovich said in a statement. “We commend the court for upholding the will of the legislature and for bringing clarity and consistency to this important issue. I have and will continue to protect the most vulnerable Arizonans.”
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Brnovich asked the Pima County Court to grant his office a waiver of the injunction after the Supreme Court issued its Dobbs decision in June. The 1973 law prohibiting abortion came into force weeks before the court ruled that the Constitution gave women the right to have an abortion.
Pima County Judge determined that Brnovich’s claim for relief was appropriate, in part, because “a court may recognize subsequent changes in statutory or decisional law.”
“The parties do not dispute that the remedy is appropriate,” continued Judge Kellie Johnson. “Planned Parenthood agrees this Dobbs resulted in a significant change in the law and agrees that it is not fair to enforce the judgment as originally rendered. »
While Planned Parenthood didn’t argue that some changes should be allowed, it disagreed with Brnovich’s argument that the entire injunction should be lifted, allowing his office to enforce state law.
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Brnovich argued that “the judgment should be set aside entirely because it was based solely on deer which was overturned,” according to Johnson’s decision.
Planned Parenthood tried to convince the court to issue an amended injunction, taking into account all abortion laws in arizona past since 1973. The organization argued that lifting the injunction “will create strife in Arizona regarding abortion.”
The court, argued Planned Parenthood, “has a duty to harmonize all of Arizona’s statutes as they exist today.”
Johnson rejected that argument, determining that the court lacks the power “to harmonize laws.”
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This year, the legislature passed a 15-week abortion law that contains no exceptions for rape or incest, but allows an abortion to save the life of the mother. The 2022 law contains specific language, Johnson noted, that it does not repeal the 1973 abortion ban.
“The Court finds that because the legal basis of the 1973 judgment has not been set aside, it must set aside the judgment in its entirety,” Johnson wrote in his conclusion. “The Court concludes that an attempt to reconcile fifty years of legislative activity is procedurally inappropriate in the context of the application and the case before it. Although there may be legal issues that the parties seek to resolve regarding Arizona’s abortion laws, those matters are not for this Court to decide here.”