abortion-ruling-capitol-20240409 image

A 160-year-old history lesson

The near-total abortion ban upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court this week has dominated headlines across the state and country

But not as much attention has been paid to what exactly "near-total" means.

The law, adopted by Arizona’s first territorial legislature in 1864, specifically prohibits any person from helping a pregnant woman “take any medicine, drugs or substance, or uses or employs any instrument or other means whatever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of such woman, unless it is necessary to save her life.”

Violation of that law is punishable by two to five years in prison. 

The Washington Post has more on the questionable character who ran the territorial legislature that first passed the law.

But it’s not just some obscure law passed by territorial lawmakers and forgotten for well over a century.

Lawmakers readopted the law in 1901, then reenacted the law in 1977 — four years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Former Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich highlighted those subsequent decisions when he asked the court to lift a 50-year old injunction on the territorial-era law after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Republican state lawmakers explicitly endorsed the law again in 2022, when they passed a 15-week abortion ban a few months before Roe was overturned. 

They also included an intent clause in the bill adopting the 15-week ban, which stated the new law did not repeal the territorial-era ban.   

Arizona Supreme Court justices cited that language in their ruling that puts the near-total ban back into effect.

The old law has now divided Republican lawmakers. Many praise the court for upholding it, and applauded the justices for understanding it was their intent all along for the stricter of the two bans to take effect if Roe was overturned. But others, including Sens. T.J. Shope and Shawnna Bolick, as well as Rep. Matt Gress, are now calling for it to be repealed (they all happen to hail from competitive legislative districts, too).

But Shope and Bolick, who voted for the 2022 15-week ban bill, never brought up repealing the territorial ban two years ago. Shope says there was never any discussion about doing so during those debates. (Gress wasn’t sworn into office until 2023 – he was working for Doug Ducey when the former governor signed the 15-week ban into law.)

Democrats, on the other hand, have introduced legislation to repeal the territorial law for six years, with little success. The most recent bill, introduced by Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton in January, went largely ignored this year until the Supreme Court ruling this week.

They say that’s proof that the change of heart among a minority of Republican lawmakers has more to do with politics than their actual policy positions.

Or, as Stahl Hamilton said of Gress, “He’s just trying to save his bacon.”

Wayne Schutsky, field correspondent

Be on your best behavior

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors took action Wednesday to formally define proper decorum for people attending its public meetings. The move comes weeks after the board tightened security based on advice from law enforcement after multiple instances of public disruptions before the board.

maricopa-board-of-supervisors-security-20240313 image

Backpedaling on abortion

Republican Kari Lake on Tuesday denounced an Arizona Supreme Court ruling reviving a near-total ban on abortion in the state — a law she previously praised as a gubernatorial candidate less than two years ago. In 2022, she was "thrilled" that Arizona had such a strict abortion ban on the books. Now she says the law, and the court’s ruling upholding it, are "out of step with Arizonans."

kari_lake-1-120240315 image

'It's not my fault'

Arizona House Democrats who also work as teachers asked the state Department of Education to explain why it’s withholding federal funding from schools, but Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne says it’s actually the federal government who is making cuts under Title I. In either case, schools are preparing to make cuts to their budgets.

12-schools-horne-full image
anita-malik-paul-bentz-newscap-20240412 image

KJZZ’s Friday NewsCap is the place for insight and lively commentary on some of the biggest stories of the week.

Paul Bentz of HighGround and former Congressional candidate Anita Malik joined The Show to talk about the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion, the state Legislature moving to a one day a week schedule and more.

barbara-atwood-crop-20221104 image

The Arizona Supreme Court’s decision upholding a near-total abortion ban in Arizona wasn’t unanimous. Legal expert Barbara Atwood explains the court’s reasoning, from the perspective of the four justices for and two justices against the 1864 law. And she explains what legal questions remain, like exactly when the ban will take effect.

sky-harbor-homeless-encampment-20240401 image

For the last few years, officials from the city of Phoenix have gone to various cities around the country as part of "homelessness summit" field trips to find out how other cities are dealing with everything from encampments to affordable housing. Phoenix’s deputy city manager, Gina Montes, defended a recent trip to Portland, a city some officials say has gotten it all wrong when it comes to homelessness.

Coming up in Arizona politics

poli-cal-15 image

Monday at 5 p.m. is the deadline to file legal challenges over the signatures candidates running for office needed to gather to qualify for the ballot. Remember, the secretary of state doesn’t verify the validity of the petitions gathered by would-be candidates, so these challenges are the only way to weed out fraudulent signatures and the candidates who’d otherwise qualify for the ballot using them. Here’s a list of all the legal challenges to follow in the coming days and weeks.

poli-cal-17 image

State lawmakers have scaled back their work week from four days to one. That means the only day the Arizona House and Senate will gavel into session these days is Wednesday. That’ll also be the next chance Democrats, and maybe a handful of Republicans, have to repeal the state’s near-total ban on abortions. Stay tuned.



Facebook  Instagram  LinkedIn  Email

LinkedIn Share on LinkedIn