19th-century abortion ban still on books in Arizona, and what the state could look like if Roe v. Wade is overturned

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s apparent intentions to overturn Roe v. Wade would have an immediate impact in Arizona, including the revival of a 19th-century territorial-era abortion ban that technically is still on the books. Ray Stern of the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com has looked at how overturning Roe would impact the state.

How would this ruling impact Arizona, specifically the 19th-century law?

Stern said that it is not clear whether the 19th-century abortion ban would immediately take effect, especially with more recent legislation on the books.

“Governor Doug Ducey has said that this new law that they’ve passed this year– that would be a hard ban after 15 weeks– would take precedence. But other say that ‘No.’ The other trigger law would be this 19th-century law, which is basically a complete abortion ban.”

What does the 19th-century law say?

The law includes prison time for abortion providers, as well as mandatory prison time for women seeking abortions. The provision including prison time for patients was repealed last year. According to Stern, the only thing keeping this law from going into effect is Roe.  

“Nobody knows exactly what Arizona would be like if Roe v. Wade was overturned, but it would be a pretty big change to the landscape. This law could go into effect and would be enforced. It was enforced pretty robustly, which I found in my research.” 

When would the old and new law take effect, if at all?

The timing of the laws depends on when the Court adjourns the case, since it has not come out with an official ruling yet on Roe.

“If they overturned it next week, then that law could go into effect pretty soon, we’re talking months, and then there would be this hard ban. The 15-week ban that just passed does include a provision that specifically says that it does not repeal the 19th-century law that’s still on the books.” 

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