U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes released an order Wednesday stating that Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) and House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Peoria) may intervene in a court case involving an abortion ban law enacted in 2021.
“When it became clear that Attorney General [Kris] Mayes [D] would not defend Arizona’s law prohibiting discriminatory abortions, the Legislature had to step in. I applaud the federal court’s order recognizing our legislative authority and granting our motion to intervene to defend the constitutionality of this law,” Toma said in a statement emailed to The Sun Times.
The U.S. Supreme Court appears very likely to uphold Missouri’s 15-week abortion ban, which will gut a significant portion of Roe v. Wade, leaving much of abortion regulation to the individual states. Roe v. Wade prohibited the states from restricting abortion before fetal viability, around 23 weeks. If the Supreme Court rules for Mississippi in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it is expected that 26 states will then start restricting abortion as early as 15 weeks, including Arizona, which already has an old law on the books.
When Arizona was a territory, a law was passed in 1901 banning abortion. A.R.S. 13-3603 punishes the facilitation of an abortion with two to five years in prison. A woman who attempts to obtain one, whether successful or not, unless necessary to save her life, was penalized by one to five years in prison. That law was repealed this year by the Arizona Legislature.