By Dave Andrusko
On September 23rd, a day before a law banned abortion after the 15th week was to take effect in Arizona, Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson lifted the injunction that had prevented the state from enforcing a 1901 law that outlawed most abortions. Last Friday, she rejected Planned Parenthood Arizona’s motion for a stay pending its appeal of her decision, ruling that abortion rights groups that asked her to block the order were not likely to prevail on appeal.
“Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich had sought the order lifting the injunction,” the Associated Press’ Bob Christie reported. “Attorneys with his office told the judge that, since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 decision said women do not have a constitutional right to obtain an abortion, there was no legal reason to block the old law.”
Roe v. Wade–the sole reason for the injunction that blocked the old law– was now gone, the Arizona Attorney’s Office argued, according to KOLD News 13.
But Sarah Mac Dougall, Planned Parenthood attorney, said the 1901 law “conflicts with half a century of other laws the Legislature has passed regulating abortion, such as a law signed this year that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.” She said
“The AG wants this court to turn every principle of statutory interpretation on its head and grant him a undemocratic windfall by allowing the oldest statute on abortion in Arizona’s books to resurrect and overtake all other legislative enactments on abortion.”
Not so fast, said Solicitor General Beau Roysden countered.
“Those laws were passed by the legislature because the Supreme Court said you are required to recognize a constitutional right to abortion,” he said. “Those laws were intended to regulate and limit abortion within the power the legislature had. They were never intended, and there’s nothing in their text that supports the conclusion they are intended to statutorily create a right to abortion.”
Planned Parenthood and its Arizona affiliate “had urged Johnson to keep the injunction issued shortly after Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973,” Christie continued. “They argued that laws enacted by the state Legislature in the ensuing 50 years should take precedence.”