Abortion In Arizona: The Judge Decides That The 19th-Century Ban Is Valid

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : September 26, 2022

Arizona’s law banning abortions after 20 weeks has been placed on hold by a state judge, but doctors will still be required to read an old-fashioned script about the procedure to women before terminating the pregnancy, according to Phoenix news station ABC 15. 

The law took effect July 3 and requires that patients be told of their right to see an ultrasound image and listen to the fetal heartbeat before undergoing an abortion, even though those requirements have no basis in medical evidence, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). A physician who violates the law would face up to six months in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.

The Aclu Argued That The Ruling Would Effectively Outlaw Abortions

This week, a judge ruled that a state law from the 1880s that criminalizes abortion at any stage of pregnancy is constitutional. By allowing this law to stand, the judge has removed women’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies and forced them to carry pregnancies they may not want or be able to afford. 

Abortion In Arizona The Judge Decides That The 19th-Century Ban Is Valid

If this ruling stands, the only option for pregnant women seeking abortions will be dangerous and illegal measures, like unsafely inducing abortion or risking their health by taking black market pills.

Where does this leave abortions for women in Arizona now?

The judge’s decision means that abortion providers will be required to comply with the fetal remains regulation, which means they must dispose of aborted fetuses through burial or cremation. 

The law also classifies abortion as a type of homicide. Abortion providers are required to report any abortions performed on women who are under 18 years old to law enforcement and social services. Women seeking an abortion may still obtain one if they receive a waiver from a court.

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There are already severe restrictions on abortions in Arizona

Arizona has the strictest abortion laws in the country, with no exceptions for rape or incest, and only allows abortions if the mother’s health is at risk. Anyone who breaks this law is guilty of a felony. 

Now, a judge has ruled that an old state law from 1873 that made it illegal to perform an abortion without a woman’s free consent to be charged with a felony as well. This effectively criminalizes all abortions and would put providers at risk of prison time.

Why wasn’t this legal before?

Law constitutionality was not decided by the court. Instead, it ruled that a lawsuit challenging the law could not proceed at this time because of a technicality. The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. They appealed to the Supreme Court, but they did not review the case. 

The lower court decision means that the abortion ban, which is more than 150 years old and makes no exceptions for rape or incest victims, will go into effect.

What does it mean for women who need abortions?

Women who need abortions may not have access to clinics or doctors that can provide them with a safe and legal abortion. The only way for these women to terminate their pregnancy is through self-managing an unsafe abortion, risking permanent damage or death.

If the law takes effect, abortion will be illegal as soon as a woman’s pregnancy is more than 20 weeks along. Women who want an abortion after that point will have to find a way to get it done elsewhere, and fast – which could mean traveling out of state or getting money for a private clinic. For some women, that means they’ll be forced to continue pregnancies against their will.


🔵National Library Of Medicine (n.d) Abortion Law and Policy Around the World (Available Online):https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5473035/

🔵WebMD(2005-2022) What Are the Types of Abortion Procedures? (Available Online):https://www.webmd.com/women/abortion-procedures

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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