Arizona Supreme Court gives state attorney general 90 more days to consider legal measures to block 1864 near-total abortion ban

Arizona governor repeals 1864 abortion ban

Arizona governor signs law repealing 1864 abortion ban


Phoenix — Arizona’s highest court on Monday gave the state’s attorney general another 90 days to decide additional legal action in the case over a 160-year-old near-total ban on abortion that lawmakers recently voted to repeal.

The Arizona Supreme Court order leaves in place for now a more recent law that legalizes abortion up to 15 weeks of pregnancy. It also gives Attorney General Kris Mayes more time to decide whether to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mayes expressed gratitude for the order and said the earliest the 1864 law can take effect is Sept. 26, counting the 90 days just granted plus another 45 days stipulated in a separate case.

“I will do everything I can to ensure that doctors can provide medical care to their patients based on their best judgment, not based on the beliefs of the men elected to the territorial legislature 160 years ago,” Mayes said.

Elections 2024 Arizona Abortion
Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes speaks to reporters at the state Capitol in Phoenix on April 9, 2024.

Jonathan Cooper/AP

The Arizona Supreme Court voted in April restore the previous law that did not establish exceptions for rape or incest and allowed abortions only if the mother’s life was in danger. The majority opinion suggested that the doctors could be prosecuted and sentenced to up to five years in prison if found guilty.

The Legislature then narrowly voted to repeal the Civil War-era law, but the repeal will not take effect until 90 days after lawmakers conclude their current annual session. It has not been clear whether there would be a period in which the previous ban could apply before the repeal took effect.

The anti-abortion group defending the ban, Alliance Defending Freedom, said it would continue fighting despite the latest delay.

“Arizona’s pro-life law has protected unborn children for more than 100 years,” said the group’s lead attorney, Jake Warner. “We will continue to work to protect unborn children and promote real support and health care for Arizona families.”

Planned Parenthood Arizona CEO Angela Florez welcomed the move. She said the organization “will continue to provide abortion services through all 15 weeks of pregnancy and we remain focused on ensuring patients have access to abortion services for as long as legally possible.”