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Arizona Reverts To Strict Abortion Ban Law Circa 1864

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An Arizona judge ruled on Friday that a near-total abortion ban can once again take effect across the state, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Reproductive health clinics in the Grand Canyon State have come to a screeching halt to stop all abortions, only able to perform the medical procedure if a pregnant person’s life is in danger. The 158-year-old Arizona law–which was updated and codified in 1901–states that abortion providers could serve between two to five years in prison.

The 1864 ban was blocked by a court injunction in response to the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973; since Roe v. Wade was overturned this summer, the basis for such an injunction no longer stands, the judge explained.

“The Court finds that because the legal basis for the judgment entered in 1973 has now been overruled, it must vacate the judgment in its entirety,” Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson wrote in her ruling.

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This revived 1864 law is so ancient that it is even older than the state of Arizona, which achieved statehood in 1912. 

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich praised the ruling: “We applaud the court for upholding the will of the legislature and providing clarity and uniformity on this important issue. I have and will continue to protect the most vulnerable Arizonans.”

In contrast, Senator Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) took to Twitter to condemn the harsh ban: “Repealing Roe v. Wade set Arizona women’s rights back decades. This decision sets them back 158 years, to before Arizona was even a state. I won’t stop until we restore abortion rights so my granddaughter can have the same freedoms my grandmother did.”

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This statewide abortion ban comes in the wake of Lindsey Graham’s proposal for a nationwide abortion ban earlier this month. Graham introduced the bill three months after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, and 37 days after he said the issue of abortion should be left up to the states to decide. 

After introducing the bill, Graham said at a press conference: “I think we should have a law at the federal level that would say after 15 weeks, no abortion on demand except in cases of rape, incest and save the life of a mother. And that should be where America’s at.”

On Friday, on the same day as the Arizona ruling, President Joe Biden criticized Graham’s federal bill as being too extreme: “I happen to be a practicing Roman Catholic. My church doesn’t even make that argument now.” The president added that he would veto the bill if it came across his desk.

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