How will the Maricopa County Attorney prosecute abortions?

Days after a Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell held a news conference on June 28 to address the matter of abortion laws in Arizona.

On June 27, officials with MCAO said Mitchell will use prosecutorial discretion when it comes to abortion cases involving children, incest and sexual assault.

"I'm not about the business of re-victimizing victims," she said.

MCAO 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.

Confusion continues over abortion laws in Arizona

Mitchell's news conference comes amid ongoing confusion on the state of abortion in Arizona, as there are competing laws that either completely ban the procedure, or limit it to 15 weeks after a woman becomes pregnant.

Citing ARS 13-3603, some Republicans in the Arizona State Senate believe the pre-Roe law is enforceable.

Under ARS 13-3603, the only exception to the ban is for abortions that are necessary to save a woman's life.

In the Arizona State Senate's statement, it was stated that the 15-week abortion ban, which will take effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns, will be put in place in addition to ARS 13-3603.

Gov. Ducey has insisted that the new law takes precedence over the total ban, but legal experts say nothing is going to change immediately.

Citing the "complex legal landscape in our state," officials with Planned Parenthood Arizona have already announced that they are officially pausing their abortion services.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

Other Arizona Stories