Arizona appeals court halts enforcement of near-total abortion ban

An Arizona appeals court halted enforcement of the state’s nearly total abortion ban late Friday, delaying a lower court’s decision to reinstate an older law that does not allow victims of rape or incest to have the procedure at any time.

The ruling by the Arizona Court of Appeals came after Planned Parenthood Arizona, a reproductive health organization, appealed the September ruling by Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson. The stay is in place until the appeal court can hear the appeal. The lower court had overturned a decades-long injunction on near-total restrictions that have their roots in an 1864 law that allows abortions only if they are necessary to save the life of a pregnant person.

Judge Peter J. Eckerstrom, writing for the three appeals judges who issued the stay, said the lower court may have erred in reviving the Civil War-era law because it conflicts with newer laws that give abortion seekers more leeway. A law allowing abortions up to 15 weeks went into effect last month, putting it in conflict with the nearly total ban of 1864. Arizona’s GOP Attorney General has previously said he plans to enforce the older law.

“Arizona courts have a responsibility to attempt to harmonize all relevant statutes of this state,” Eckerstrom wrote in a one-page order, adding that the “urgent need for [health care] providers, prosecutors and the public for legal clarity” had prompted the order.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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