Arizona’s abortion ban: A dangerous step back

Abortion rights activist protests during a reproductive rights rally at the Tucson Federal Courthouse in Tucson, Arizona, July 4, 2022. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images)

By Sen. Anna Hernandez, Rep. Analise Ortiz, Rep. Lorena Austin, Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, Sen. Priya Sundareshan

April 10, 2024

Several years ago, when the US Supreme Court began taking a hatchet job to our rights, protesters warned that we were headed for a reality that resembled The Handmaid’s Tale. This fictional TV show depicted a dystopian future where women had no rights and forced birth was the status quo.

Today, we took a dangerous step towards Hollywood’s imagination turning real. The Arizona Supreme Court’s decision to ban nearly all abortions in our state literally takes us back 160 years.

Revival of cruelty

The reinstatement of an 1864 law – that existed when Arizona was a Confederate territory – is as barbaric as it is archaic. It makes no exceptions for rape or incest, and will effectively give perpetrators of sexual violence that results in pregnancy a permanent tie to their victims. The law would also punish medical professionals who perform abortions with prison sentences of up to five years.

There is no other way we can say this: This is judicial cruelty. It is also out of touch with the overwhelming majority of Arizonans. In 2022, nearly 90 percent of Arizona’s electorate believed some form of abortion should be legal. With the stroke of a pen, four unelected judges overruled the wishes of a majority, transporting us back to a time when slavery was legal and before women had the right to vote.

This is the tyranny of the minority.

This ruling will only bring pain

We’ve seen this movie before. Sadly, we know how it ends. When this ban takes place in two weeks, we’ll hear story after horrifying story in the coming months of pregnant people who may be the victims of sexual violence, people who are carrying fetuses that may not be viable, and people who simply don’t wish to have children be forced to carry to term.

We will no doubt be treated to tragic tales of women and other pregnant people who may nearly lose their lives due to lack of abortion access. Our Supreme Court judges have told Arizonans they know better than doctors and that they know what’s best – even better than pregnant people themselves.

It’s time to fight back

Attorney General Kris Mayes rightly called today’s decision “unconscionable and an affront to freedom.” She also pledged not to prosecute any woman or doctor who seeks an abortion in our state. We appreciate and thank AG Mayes for standing on the right side of history, but this doesn’t prevent extremist local prosecutors from threatening the freedom of people who need abortions or doctors who perform them.

We recognize that today’s decision is a major blow to reproductive rights. We recognize that it can feel like the game is rigged. That no matter what we do, there will always be an unseen hand ready to sign away our rights.

We urge you to reject these feelings. Now is not the time to fold. Now, more than ever before, is the time to fight.

Accountability matters

Every member who voted to strip you of your reproductive rights was appointed by a Republican. That means new judges can be appointed by Democrats.

To that end, our mission and marching orders are clear: The MAGA extremists that occupy our state legislature, our judiciary, and our federal offices must go.

This November, we can send MAGA Republicans packing up and down the ticket. We can fill our state legislature with champions who will protect our reproductive rights. And we can make sure that we never have to fight this fight again.

Our plan to reject the ban

We, as Working Families Party Democrats, urge you to support the campaign run by Arizona for Abortion Access, a coalition of organizations dedicated to protecting abortion rights in our state that have secured more than 500,000 signatures to put abortion on the ballot.

If passed, the Arizona Abortion Access Act would amend our state constitution to make abortion a “fundamental right” and prevent the state from interfering with a person’s right to choose.

Election Day is less than seven months from now. What we do in the next seven months will determine whether our democracy – already hanging by a thread – lives to fight another day or whether Arizonans will grow up in a state with rules fit for a Hollywood hit show that depicts a dystopian society consumed by patriarchy and oppression.

We don’t know what the future holds but we do know this: MAGA extremists have disqualified themselves from governing.

We also know that we must organize, fight, and vote like our lives and freedoms depend on it – because they do.

Authors

  • Sen. Anna Hernandez

    Anna Hernandez is a Democratic state senator representing Arizona's 24th District, comprising Maryvale and parts of the West Valley. Hernandez currently services on the Judiciary and Elections Committees.

  • Rep. Analise Ortiz

    Rep. Analise Ortiz is a Democratic state representative representing Arizona's 24th District, comprising Maryvale and parts of the West Valley. Ortiz is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, and was appointed by Gov. Katie Hobbs to serve on the Independent Prison Oversight Commission.

  • Rep. Lorena Austin

    Lorena Austin is a Democratic member of the Arizona House of Representatives representing Arizona's 9th District, comprising parts of Mesa and Tempe. Austin currently serves on the Appropriations and Commerce Committees.

  • Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton

    Stephanie Stahl-Hamiton is a Democratic member of the Arizona House of Representatives, representing Arizona's 21st District, comprising parts of Tucson, and Pima, Santa Cruz, and Cochise Counties. She serves on the Appropriations, and Joint Legislative Budget committees.

  • Sen. Priya Sundareshan

    Priya Sundareshan is a Democratic state senator representing Arizona's 18th District, comprising parts of Tucson and Pima County. Sundareshan currently services on the Natural Resources, Energy and Water, Government, and Elections Committees.

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