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Arizona judge reinstates 1864 abortion ban from before territory became a state

A Planned Parenthood center in St. Louis, Missouri, is pictured in July 2020. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/86ad608c279d5b8d92df53f9914de570/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A Planned Parenthood center in St. Louis, Missouri, is pictured in July 2020. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 23 (UPI) -- An Arizona judge on Friday ruled that an 1864 territorial law banning abortions should be reinstated, just a day before a new ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy was to take effect.

The controversial law was adopted by the first legislature after Arizona became a United States territory in 1863. Arizona became a state in 1912 and the law remains codified as ARS 13-3603.

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Under the law, any person who provides a woman with medicine or procedures with the intent of causing a "miscarriage" of the woman faces two to five years in prison.

A court injunction imposed in 1973 after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which enshrined abortion as a constitutional right, blocked the law from being implemented.

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Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson's lifted that injunction on the 158-year-old law in her ruling Friday stemming from a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of Arizona against Mark Brnovich, the state's attorney general.

Planned Parenthood had argued that the state should reconcile the law, which conflicts with the 15-week ban passed by the state legislature this year and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey.

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"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," Johnson wrote in her ruling.

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"The court finds an attempt to reconcile 50 years of legislative activity procedurally improper in the context of the motion and record before it.

"While there may be legal questions the parties seek to resolve regarding Arizona statutes on abortion, those questions are not for this court to decide here."

Planned Parenthood of Arizona decried the judge's ruling in a statement posted to Twitter, saying that her decision "is sending Arizonans back nearly 150 years."

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"Today, the Pima County Supreme Court lifted the injunction that suppressed an archaic near-total abortion ban in Arizona," Planned Parenthood said.

"Our lawyers are evaluating next steps in the case, and we will update our patients and community as soon as we have more information.

"This is far from over and Planned Parenthood Arizona will never back down -- not now, not ever."

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