Ross D. Franklin/AP
PHOENIX — There is a lot of confusion around what is legal in Arizona when it comes to abortion after Roe v. Wade.
Arizona has an abortion law dating back to the 1800s, decades before it became a state. A debate around that law has moved the race for state attorney general into the spotlight.
That law outlaws abortions with very few exceptions, and it has never been repealed. But the state also has a number of more recent laws that restrict abortion in various other ways. For example, the state’s legislature this year passed a law banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation. So the question is, which laws are providers supposed to follow?
Arizona’s current state attorney general, Republican Mark Brnovich, says the old ban from territorial days is enforceable. But Brnovich is at the end of his term, so both sides of the issue now are really focused on who will replace him and what the next AG’s interpretation of Arizona’s law will be.
On the Republican side, there are six candidates and they’ve all indicated that they would plan to enforce state laws that restrict abortion.
On the Democrat side, there’s only one candidate running unopposed who says any limits on abortion in Arizona are in violation of the state constitution, which guarantees an individual’s right to privacy.
For now, most abortions have already stopped in Arizona. Brnovich is seeking to enforce the state’s 19th-century ban. While the issue is stalled in court, Planned Parenthood and other providers don’t want to take a risk while the law is still unclear. Already there are reports of California clinics getting a big influx of Arizona patients.