Abortion now banned in most cases in Arizona, Attorney General says: Here's what to know about ARS 13-3603

Abortion, under most circumstances, are now banned in Arizona, according to the state's Attorney General.

On June 29, Mark Brnovich tweeted that his office has "concluded the Arizona Legislature has made its intentions clear regarding abortion laws."

"ARS 13-3603 is back in effect and will not be repealed in 90 days by SB1164," the tweet read, in part.

Ducey spokesman C.J. Karamargin the governor’s office was reviewing Brnovich’s decision and had no immediate comment.

Previously, it was noted by the Associated Press that Arizona had competing laws regarding abortion. Brnovich's decision puts him at odds with Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who had said that a newer law on abortion it took precedence over ARS 13-3603.

Here's what you should know about Arizona's abortion ban.

What is ARS 13-3603?

ARS 13-3603 refers to a section of Arizona law that bans abortion in all cases except to save the woman's life.

The section reads:

"The 1901 law is directed at someone who does supply provide or administer those drugs or medicine with the intent to induce a miscarriage, so it’s not directed at the pregnant woman herself," said Emily Ward with law firm Fennemore Craig.

When was the law passed?

According to the Associated Press, the law dates back to at least 1901, 11 years before Arizona became a state.

When will the law take effect once again?

On July 13, Brnovich announced that he has filed a motion in Pima County, asking a judge to lift an injunction on the ban that was reportedly put in place shortly after the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.

Didn't Arizona pass a law that bans abortions after 15 weeks?

Yes.

The bill passed was Senate Bill 1164, which Brnovich mentioned in his statement. Gov. Doug Ducey signed SB 1164 on March 30. The bill contained no exceptions for rape or incest, and would also bar abortions for families that learn later on in a pregnancy that a fetus is not viable. It contains exemptions for medical emergencies in which the mother is at risk of dying or having permanent, irreversible injury.

Why is ARS 13-3603 back in effect?

ARS 13-3603, and by extension, abortion in Arizona, became a focus following a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Conservative justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett agreed with the opinion's author, Samuel Alito, to overturn both Roe v. Wade and a 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that affirmed Roe’s finding of a constitutional right to abortions.

"We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives," Alito wrote, in an opinion that was very similar to the leaked draft.

The overturning of Roe means individual states now have the final say on the matter of abortion.

Related Story: Roe v. Wade: What to know about the now-overturned abortion ruling, and what's next for Arizona

What are the reactions to Brnovich's announcement?

Democratic Party

Members of the Democratic Party are pushing back.

"The government does not belong in this most private of decisions," said Kris Mayes, who is the Democratic Party candidate for Arizona Attorney General. He is the only person running for the nomination, according to the Arizona Secretary of State's office.

"When it actually comes down to the work of protecting choice, only Democrats continue to fight for that freedom," said State Sen. Rebecca Rios.

Republican Party

"It seems there is some challenge on what’s happening here, and likely, it will have to be decided in the courts," said Gov. Doug Ducey.

Pro-life supporters

Lori Zee Grey with the Arizona Coalition for Life said she had an abortion when she was 17, and regrets it to this day.

"The question is: when is it acceptable to destroy a human life? And in my opinion, it’s not acceptable. Ever," said Grey.

Medical Professionals

"All people deserve good high-quality care, and should not fear that speaking about abortion with their healthcare provider will land them, or their physician, in jail," said Dr. Viktoria Krajnc with the University of Arizona.

Will officials enforce ARS 13-3603?

Prosecutor, according to the AP, are split along party lines, with Democratic Pima County Attorney Laura Conover saying she will not prosecute providers under the new law, and Republican Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell saying she may.

On June 27, officials with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said Mitchell will use prosecutorial discretion when it comes to abortion cases involving rape or incest. Officials with the office later released a lengthier statement on the issue of abortion written by Mitchell.

"As I have previously stated, upon taking office I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the state of Arizona. At this time, there are no submittals from law enforcement before my office related to abortion laws. 

Should a case be submitted for review, this office will apply our ethical charging standard of a reasonable likelihood of conviction when deciding on whether charges should be filed. There undoubtedly will be legal challenges to the laws in Arizona. This important legal review will take time and any such rulings will guide my decision-making on these matters."

More: How will the Maricopa County Attorney prosecute abortions?

How many abortions were being performed in Arizona?

According to figures released by the Arizona Department of Health Services, in 2020, 13,186 abortions involving Arizona residents were performed, with 85.4% of the patients being unmarried women.

It was noted in the figures that about 6,620 cases of abortions in 2020 were done via non-surgical means that involve medicine, and 6,560 cases were done via various surgical procedures.

However, citing the "complex legal landscape in our state," officials with Planned Parenthood Arizona said on June 24 that they are officially pausing their abortion services.

Couldn't Arizona voters decide on the issue of abortion?

While there are efforts to place an abortion measure on the ballot, voters in Arizona won't decide on the issue during the November 2022 elections.

We have reported that members with the group Arizonans For Reproductive Freedom were collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that, if passed by voters, would add abortion protections to the Arizona State Constitution.

"I do think the ruling today has inspired people to get involved and not be complacent when it comes to civil rights, reproductive rights," said Dr. Tori Fewell. "I do think that there will be options for patients. Unfortunately, they're going to be options for patients mainly with resources."

The group had until July 7 to collect more than 365,000 signatures. On July 7, members of the group said they have failed to collect enough signatures to place the issue on the November ballot. Supporters say they are confident they will be able to place the measure on th 2024 election ballot.

What do polls say about the nation's opinion on abortion?

According to a 2019 poll by the Pew Research Center, 61% of those surveyed say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 38% say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

In a 2021 AP-NORC poll, 61% of those surveyed say abortion should be legal in most or all circumstances in the first trimester of pregnancy. However, 65% said abortion should usually be illegal in the second trimester, and 80% said that about the third trimester.

In a Fox News poll released in 2021, 65% of those surveyed say Roe v. Wade should be allowed to stand. The same poll, however, found that overall views on abortion are divided, with the same percentage (49%) of those surveyed say that abortion should be illegal or illegal.

An AP article has noted, prior to the ruling on June 24, that three of the justices who appear poised to overturn Roe v. Wade were appointed by former President Donald Trump, who did not win the popular vote when he was elected in 2016. The article noted that a sweeping decision would invite new questions about how the nation’s highest court reflects — or conflicts with — public sentiment.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.