Arizona Supreme Court Sides with Extremists, Upholds Civil War-Era Anti-Abortion Law 

ARIZONA – A 4-2 decision issued by the Arizona Supreme Court today clears the way for enforcement of a Civil War-era law that would make all abortions illegal in Arizona, except in cases to save the life of the person seeking the abortion. The ruling in Planned Parenthood of Arizona v Mayes will not take immediate effect. 

“This decision is regressive, harmful and legally absurd,” said Skye Perryman, President and CEO of Democracy Forward, which represented a group of legal scholars in submitting an amicus brief in the case. “This ruling will leave Arizona women without health care and Arizona’s physicians under threat of criminal enforcement. This decision highlights how far anti-abortion extremists will go to restrict reproductive rights–including the invocation of a law from an era before women had the right to vote. We need to be moving forward in our country, not back.  Hundreds of thousands of Arizonans have expressed support for allowing voters to protect the right to abortion in Arizona via the ballot box. It’s critical that people have the opportunity to vote to restore these rights.” 

Just weeks after Roe v. Wade was overturned, then-Attorney General Mark Brnovich, an elected Republican, moved to reopen a long-dormant, pre-Roe case in an effort to revive Arizona’s 1864 near-total abortion ban. In 2023, newly-elected Attorney General Kris Mayes refused to defend the extreme abortion ban in court. Last December, the Arizona Court of Appeals held that all of Arizona’s abortion laws must be harmonized, and that abortion is legal up to 15 weeks when provided by licensed physicians in compliance with Arizona’s other laws and regulations. 

The case only remained active because the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) – an SPLC-identified hate group and fixture of the far-right legal movement – represented two individuals as intervenors who continued to pursue the appeal.  That includes anti-abortion activist Dr. Eric Hazelrigg, who intervened in the case as “guardian ad litem for all unborn infants in the State of Arizona” and requested that the Arizona Supreme Court reverse the lower court’s decision. The decision issued today upholds Dr. Hazelrigg’s request, as represented by ADF.

For more information about Democracy Forward and Planned Parenthood of Arizona v Mayes, please visit

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