Democrats are speaking out after Pima County Judge Kellie Johnson allowed an 1864 Arizona territorial law banning most abortions to go back into effect Friday.
The law, which predates Arizona statehood, prohibits all abortion except to save the life of the person pregnant. It mandates two to five years in prison for abortion providers.
Katie Hobbs, Democratic candidate for governor, and Kris Mayes, Democratic candidate for state attorney general, spoke out against the ruling over the weekend.
Where Candidates for Governor Stand
“Women’s rights are not a bargaining chip,” Hobbs said. “So what my focus is going to be on day one is repeal this law.”
“I’ve always been an advocate for access to safe, legal abortion,” Hobbs said last week. “I’ll continue to be that advocate as governor. I’ll do everything in my power to restore access in Arizona and I’ll veto any additional restrictions.”
Hobbs said she’ll call a special legislative session in order to overturn the law, though that would be difficult if Republicans maintain control of the Legislature. She also noted that even if the territorial law is overturned, Arizona still has a 15-week abortion ban that went into effect this month.
Hobbs supports a ballot measure giving voters the chance to decide the legality of abortion in the 2024 election.
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If elected governor, Hobbs said she’ll veto any legislation that further attempts to restrict abortion.
Republican nominee for governor Kari Lake has made no mention of abortion or the ruling since Friday.
Lake has referred to abortions as “the ultimate sin.” Lake has also spoken positively about the territorial law.
Where Candidates for Attorney General Stand
The attorney general in Arizona is tasked with handling appeals for statewide felony convictions and legally representing most state agencies. Democratic candidate Mayes has said she believes the right to an abortion is in the Arizona constitution.
“I am the only candidate for attorney general who is saying that when I’m attorney general, we will not prosecute women, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, or midwives for assisting in reproductive care, which includes abortion,” Mayes said in an August interview.
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Over the weekend, she spoke more strongly against the ruling.
“[Republicans] know how absolutely unpopular this … law is,” she said. “They know how indefensible it is. And they know that when Nov. 8 comes, the people of Arizona are going to resoundingly reject this extreme abortion ban—this attack on the people of Arizona—by voting them down.”
Mayes said she will direct county prosecutors not to enforce the abortion law.
Republican candidate for attorney general Abe Hamadeh said Sunday he will enforce the territorial law, if elected.
“As attorney general, I vow to always interpret laws as written, and not use the office to distort the law into my personal beliefs,” Hamadeh said in a statement.
On Hamadeh’s campaign website, he further touted his position against abortion.
“As Attorney General, I will protect the most vulnerable among us and work to promote a culture of life in Arizona,” the website reads. “I will fight to protect the rights of our children at all stages, beginning at conception, and ensure that our laws to protect life are fully implemented.”
Interpreting the law as written will result in abortion providers getting between two and five years in prison.
Early ballots for the general election will be mailed out starting on Oct. 12. The election is on Nov. 8.