Conflicting abortion statutes upend race in Arizona

Abortions in Arizona and Ohio are legal after separate court rulings

Abortions in both Arizona and Ohio are legal once again after two separate rulings in court on Friday.

At the Arizona Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel sided with Planned Parenthood on Friday, which argued that Pima County Court Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson shouldn’t have lifted an injunction that prevented a pre-statehood law that bans abortions in all circumstances, except if the mother’s life is in danger.

In Ohio, Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Christian Jenkins issued a preliminary injunction that blocks the state’s heartbeat bill, which bans abortions when a “fetal heartbeat” is detected, which could be as early as six weeks.

After Roe v. Wade was overturned, the law was put into effect, but was then paused. 

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Abortion-rights supporters chant their objections at the Kentucky Capitol on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Frankfort, Ky.
(AP Photo/Bruce Schreiner, File)

Lawyers in the Arizona Attorney General’s office didn’t argue that the 15-week abortion law passed in March should nullify the pre-statehood abortion law. But they requested Johnson offer them relief from an injunction blocking them from enforcing the abortion ban. 

Johnson granted the attorney general’s request last month, but the court on Friday put the injunction back in place while Planned Parenthood attempts to appeal Johnson’s ruling. 

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement that the organization welcomes the order allowing abortions to resume.

“Today’s decision provides a desperately needed sense of security for both our patients and providers,” McGill Johnson said. “We can now breathe a sigh of relief and serve patients. While the fight isn’t over, for now, Arizonans will once again be able to make their own decisions about their bodies, health care decisions, and futures.”

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Protesters hold placards expressing their opinion at a pro abortion rights rally. People from many different cities gathered to support and rally for abortion rights.

Protesters hold placards expressing their opinion at a pro abortion rights rally. People from many different cities gathered to support and rally for abortion rights.
(Photo by Whitney Saleski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Dr. Steven Ralston, a maternal doctor at the University of Maryland, testified to the Ohio judge that the language in Ohio’s abortion law is vague, adding that doctors could have their medical license stripped or face felony charges if they misinterpret the law.

“I’ve seen many, many more patients end up in intensive care units after having a baby compared to women who have had an abortion,” Ralston said. “In fact, I can’t even remember a time that I’ve seen a woman end up in a care unit after an abortion.”

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Celina Washburn protests outside the Arizona Capitol to voice her dissent with an abortion ruling, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Phoenix. An Arizona judge ruled the state can enforce a near-total ban on abortions that has been blocked for nearly 50 years. The law was first enacted decades before Arizona became a state in 1912. 

Celina Washburn protests outside the Arizona Capitol to voice her dissent with an abortion ruling, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Phoenix. An Arizona judge ruled the state can enforce a near-total ban on abortions that has been blocked for nearly 50 years. The law was first enacted decades before Arizona became a state in 1912. 
(AP Photo/Matt York, File)

State’s attorneys for Ohio had Dr. Dennis Sullivan, who is a bioethics expert from Cedarville University, which is in the state, testify. Sullivan, who works for a private-Baptist university, said that the law is “consistent with good medical practice,” stating that life starts at conception.

State’s attorneys for Ohio are expected to appeal the decision, and an appeals court will continue hearing Planned Parenthood’s full appeal of the abortion law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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