Arizona Gov. Hobbs asked to rescind executive order limiting prosecution of abortion-related cases

Twelve of Arizona’s 15 county attorneys are calling for Gov. Katie Hobbs to rescind her recent executive order that limits them from prosecuting abortion-related cases.

"The governor’s office should not interfere with the discretion of prosecutors in fulfilling their duties as elected officials," said the attorneys’ letter sent to Hobbs late Monday. "Whether this was the intended purpose, the result is an unnecessary and unjustified impingement on the duties and obligations of elected county attorneys in Arizona."

Gubernatorial spokesman Christian Slater said the governor will not be rescinding the order.

"Governor Hobbs will never stop fighting for reproductive freedoms in Arizona," Slater said in a statement. "She will continue to use her lawful executive authority to put sanity over chaos and protect everyday Arizonans from extremists who are threatening to prosecute women and doctors over reproductive healthcare."

Hobbs’ order signed on June 22 gives state Attorney General Kris Mayes the power to handle any attempted county prosecution under state abortion laws, bans state agencies from assisting investigations for alleged violations in other states and bans extradition of people accused of violating other states’ abortion laws.

"This executive order results in an exercise of authority not vested in the governor’s office. It is a substantial overreach to suggest the governor may strip away prosecutorial discretion from local, elected officials," Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell wrote in a letter to Hobbs.

Mitchell is a Republican while Hobbs and Mayes are Democrats.

Abortions are currently allowed in Arizona in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy under a 2022 law. Last year, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that abortion doctors cannot be prosecuted under a law dating back to 1864 that criminalizes nearly all abortions. That pre-statehood law was already barred from being enforced for decades because of Roe v. Wade.