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Arizona Supreme Court court gives state AG 90 more days to mull legal moves to block 1864 near-total abortion ban

Arizona governor repeals 1864 abortion ban
Arizona governor signs 1864 abortion ban repeal into law 10:55

Phoenix — Arizona's highest court on Monday gave the state's attorney general another 90 days to decide further legal action in the case over a 160-year-old near-total ban on abortion that lawmakers recently voted to repeal.

The Arizona Supreme Court's order leaves in place for now a more recent law that legalizes abortion up to 15 weeks of pregnancy. It also allows Attorney General Kris Mayes more time to decide whether to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mayes expressed gratitude for the order and said the earliest the 1864 law can now take effect is Sept. 26, counting the 90 days just granted plus another 45 days stipulated in a separate case.

"I will do everything I can to ensure that doctors can provide medical care for their patients according to their best judgment, not the beliefs of the men elected to the territorial legislature 160 years ago," Mayes said.

Election 2024 Arizona Abortion
Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes speaks to reporters at the state Capitol in Phoenix on April 9, 2024. Jonathan Cooper / AP

Arizona's Supreme Court in April voted to restore the older law that provided no exceptions for rape or incest and allows abortions only if the mother's life is in jeopardy. The majority opinion suggested doctors could be prosecuted and sentenced to up to five years in prison if convicted.

The Legislature then voted narrowly to repeal the Civil War-era law, but the repeal won't take effect until 90 days after lawmakers wrap up their current annual session. It has been unclear if there would be a period the older ban could be enforced before the repeal took hold.

The anti-abortion group defending the ban, Alliance Defending Freedom, said that it would keep fighting despite the latest delay.

"Arizona's pro-life law has protected unborn children for over 100 years," said the group's senior counsel Jake Warner. "We will continue working to protect unborn children and promote real support and health care for Arizona families."

Planned Parenthood Arizona CEO Angela Florez welcomed the move. She said the organization "will continue to provide abortion care through 15 weeks of pregnancy and we remain focused on ensuring patients have access to abortion care for as long as legally possible."

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