Arizona abortion ban: 'Democrats have tried to politicize the issue': Lake slams Hobbs on abortion in Fox News appearance

Arizona Republic

A near-total abortion ban adopted before Arizona became a state was allowed to go into effect Friday by a Pima County Superior Court judge.

The law mandates two to five years in prison for anyone who provides an abortion or the means for an abortion. The only exception is to save the life of the mother. This is the law as it remains on the books at ARS 13-3603:

"A person who provides, supplies or administers to a pregnant woman, or procures such woman to take any medicine, drugs or substance, or uses or employs any instrument or other means whatever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of such woman, unless it is necessary to save her life, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than two years nor more than five years."

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sought a determination on the law after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in its June decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case in Mississippi.

Follow coverage of reaction to the judge's ruling on Arizona's abortion law by Republic reporters here.

6 p.m. Sunday: 'Democrats have tried to politicize the issue': Lake slams Hobbs on abortion in Fox News appearance 

Kari Lake, the GOP gubernatorial candidate for Arizona, appeared on Fox News's Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo on Sunday morning. 

"I'm pro-life. I've never backed away from that and never will I. I want to protect lives and I want to help women," Lake said. "We've got to make sure we are giving women the support they need. I'm all for health care for women." 

Lake asserted that "Democrats have tried to politicize this issue" and that Hobbs' position on abortion is "inhumane and immoral." 

"We want to make sure that the scary moments when you find out you're pregnant, and it can be scary, that we are there with them providing assistance in any way possible," Lake said. 

On June 24, Lake tweeted that the "culture of abortion is over" in response to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in its decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case in Mississippi.

4:30 p.m. Sunday: 'I vow to always interpret laws as written:' Abe Hamadeh issues statement in response to abortion ruling 

Abe Hamadeh, the Republican nominee for Arizona's attorney general, was one of the first GOP candidates for top office in the state to issue a response to a county judge’s ruling reinforcing a pre-statehood law banning abortion in most cases.

"As Attorney General, I vow to always interpret laws as written, and not use the office to distort the law into my personal beliefs. The court's latest ruling affirms the intent of the Legislature. The role of the Attorney General often is to seek clarity on behalf of the state when a statue is legally challenged. This defense shouldn't be a partisan exercise, but a core responsibility to the people of Arizona to defend laws as they exist, not based upon what they think the law should be," Hamadeh said. 

Saturday morning, Hamadeh's Democratic opponent Kris Mayes held a joint news conference with Katie Hobbs, the Democratic pick for governor. 

Mayes said she would withdraw current Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s opinion favoring the law, calling it unconstitutional. Mayes argued the state constitution had an expressed right to privacy protecting abortion rights.

“This outrageous law represents a clear violation of the rights of women in our state. Even worse, it will put the health of women at risk in a way we have not seen in our lifetime. Women and girls will die because of it,” she said, later adding, “It’s unacceptable that Arizona women are now being forced back in time to 1901 and that the young women of this state now have fewer rights than I and other women have had our entire lives.”

While Hobbs echoed Mayes' position, Hobbs' political rival Kari Lake has not yet issued a statement in light of Friday's abortion ruling. 

8 p.m. Saturday: Speakers at abortion rights rally caution about dangers of a ban 

Elsa Landeros, an organizer with Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom and one of the primary organizers of the rally, said that although the pre-statehood law includes an exception to save the life of the patient, it is effectively a total ban.

“Abortion providers have shared with us that this is a total ban because most OBGYNs do not perform abortion,” she said. Even in a situation where the patient’s life is at risk, they won’t be able to be transported to an abortion provider in time to save their life, she said.

“The effects of this ban are far more overreaching, more than just about family planning, even though the privacy of family planning should be enough,” Landeros said. “But the implications of this is that people will die.”

When speakers began at 5:45 pm, the emphasis was on getting people out to vote in the Nov. 8 election — especially for Democratic attorney general candidate Kristin Mayes, gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs, and Maricopa County attorney candidate Julie Gunnigle.

Celina Washburn, an organizer with Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom, said that there are plans in the works for another constitutional amendment ballot initiative for 2024. She encouraged voters to vote no this November on three propositions — Propositions 128, 129 and 132 — which she said would “create barriers for us to qualify and pass initiatives.”

The total amount of demonstrators in attendance grew to about 100 before the crowd dispersed at about 6:30 p.m.

— Madeleine Parrish

5 p.m. Saturday: Crowd of abortion rights demonstrators grows to 80

Speakers, which include Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs, are expected to begin addressing the crowd of about 80 demonstrators assembled at the Arizona state Capitol in protest of an abortion ban at 6 p.m.

Ylenia Aguilar, a candidate for the Osborn School District Governing Board, and Lorena Austin, a candidate for Arizona House of Representatives in District 9, as well as someone who had an abortion, are also expected to speak.

The organizers for the demonstration are Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom, Misión por Arizona and Arizona Human Rights Fighters.

“I just hope that we continue having the dialogue because the majority of Arizonans support common sense access to abortion,” said Bridget Augustine, a spokesperson for Misión por Arizona.

Augustine acknowledged the vast differing in opinions on how late access to abortion should be allowed.

“Most agree there should be access allowed, and I think that dialogue needs to be front and center during this election,” Augustine said. “It needs to be an issue that is placed at the forefront because there are too many women who could die or be harmed if this old, old ban continues.”

— Madeleine Parrish 

5 p.m. Saturday: Demonstrators gather at Capitol to protest Arizona ban on abortion

Dozens are gathered near the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on Saturday in protest of a Pima County judge’s ruling to lift an injunction that would greenlight an Arizona law that bans abortions in nearly all circumstances.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs is expected to be among several speakers at the evening's demonstration.

— Lillian Boyd 

2 p.m. Saturday: White House press secretary denounces Arizona abortion ruling  

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement on Saturday, characterizing Arizona’s abortion ruling as “dangerous” and setting Arizona women back by more than a century.

“If this decision stands, health care providers would face imprisonment of up to five years for fulfilling their duty of care; survivors of rape and incest would be forced to bear the children of their assaulters; and women with medical conditions would face dire health risks,” her statement said.

Jean-Pierre said the decision exemplifies the “disturbing trend” across the country in which Republican officials at local and national levels are set on “stripping women of their rights, including through Senator Graham’s proposed national abortion ban.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a nationwide abortion ban Tuesday, which would prohibit the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy with rare exceptions.

“The contrast between the President and his focus on moving the country forward and Republican officials’ obsession with taking our country backwards could not be more stark,” Jean-Pierre said.

— Lillian Boyd 

1 p.m. Saturday: Democrat candidates denounce abortion ruling outside AG office 

During a Saturday morning press conference in Phoenix, Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs and attorney general candidate Kris Mayes spoke out against a county judge’s ruling reinforcing a pre-statehood law banning abortion in most cases.

Hobbs and Mayes took to a lectern outside Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s Office. The state’s top lawyer asked the court to rule on the injunction following the United States Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization in late June. That decision overturned Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationally in 1973.

The law is “extreme” and a “territorial-era ban” that is “cruel and life-threatening,” Hobbs said, adding it makes no exceptions for rape or incest. “Additionally, this law means that abortion providers can be thrown into jail for providing reproductive care.”

Hobbs, who is currently serving as secretary of state, said if elected she would move to pull the law.

“On day one, I will call a special session of the state legislature to overturn this draconian law,’ Hobbs said.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson’s ruling on the law, which dates to 1864 and led to the imprisonment of doctors and amateur abortionists, clarifies how it can be enforced. The only exception in the law is afforded to save the life of a pregnant individual.

Mayes said she would withdraw Brnovich’s opinion favoring the law, and replace it with one calling it unconstitutional. Mayes, a lawyer, argued the state constitution had an expressed right to privacy protecting abortion rights.

“This outrageous law represents a clear violation of the rights of women in our state. Even worse, it will put the health of women at risk in a way we have not seen in our lifetime. Women and girls will die because of it,” she said, later adding, “It’s unacceptable that Arizona women are now being forced back in time to 1901 and that the young women of this state now have fewer rights than I and other women have had our entire lives.”

Mayes also said the law will hinder Arizona’s economic growth, suggesting companies and workers will not relocate to the state.

Both candidates urged those concerned with the impact from the law’s reinstatement to vote in the Nov. 8 election.

“People in their doctors’ offices today don’t know what’s allowed and the care they can get and this is harming people’s access to care today. So, voting in November is incredibly important so that we can move forward to restore rights,” Hobbs said.

Mayes expressed certainty a ballot initiative on the issue would face voters come 2024.

The initiative would give voters “an opportunity to ensconce in the Arizona constitution a permanent right to abortion and the right to reproductive care,” Mayes said.

— Jose R. Gonzalez 

8:05 p.m. Friday: Anger, frustration in Tucson

Protesters gather on Sept. 23, 2022, after a Pima County Superior Court judge ruled a law banning abortion could go into effect.

Protesters gathered in front of the Pima County Superior Courthouse in Tucson on Friday evening.

With megaphones, they chanted: "Abortion rights are human rights." Anger and frustration were apparent.

“I’m appalled that our courts are trying to institute laws that were written before the railroad arrived in my town," said Briggs Clinco. "This is some medieval action that is happening against human beings’ bodies. It’s a violation of civil rights and basic health care.”

Amy Fitch-Heacock, a spokesperson for Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom, called the ruling "absolutely abhorrent."

“We are going back to a law that predates statehood and predates women’s right to vote even," Fitch-Heacock said. "It’s scary, and it’s going to lead to deaths.”

She said she wasn't surprised by the ruling.  

“We’ve seen over and over again that Arizona judges play a political game," she said. "This is less about justice and more about politics.”

And she expects a prolonged fight.

“I think this is going to drag out in the courts for months, and during that time pregnant people are less safe in Arizona," Fitch-Heacock said.

— Sarah Lapidus

7:30 p.m. Friday: Protesters gather in Flagstaff

Debra Block, one of the organizers of Flagstaff’s protest, tearfully described feeling devastated when she learned of the ruling.

“It’s just unbelievable. Women couldn’t even vote. We weren’t even a state,” she said. “What’s wrong with these people?”

Block said she started fighting for abortion rights as a teenager. It gives her hope that a younger generation of women is keeping up the fight, she said, but she also feels sorry for them.

“Look at these young women,” she said, pointing to the line of young protesters who had gathered with their signs alongside her outside of Flagstaff City Hall.

“What if they got pregnant and weren’t ready to have a kid?” she wondered, before outlining obstacles that would now stand in their way.

Reagan Warner is a California native who moved to Flagstaff to attend Northern Arizona University. Adjusting to the new reality of living under very different laws when it comes to women’s rights motivated her to support abortion rights and come out to the protest, she said.

“Knowing that even in the case of an assault you have no right to your autonomy, even if you’re not from here,” Warner said.

With Warner was fellow NAU student Katherine Crawford.

“It just makes me sick to know that a law created in 1864 ... still controlling our rights to health care,” Crawford said. “It’s literally bringing us back to the Civil War era.”

— Lacey Latch

7:15 p.m. Friday: Protest planned for Saturday evening in Phoenix

Elsa Landeros, a reproductive rights activist, stood outside the state Capitol on Friday evening and urged roughly two dozen people to return at 5 p.m. Saturday to protest the ruling.

Landeros asked those gathered Friday to share the news about Saturday's protest and encouraged reproductive rights organizations to participate.

— Perry Vandell

7 p.m. Friday: Sen. Sinema looking for 'commonsense proposals'

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said on Twitter she's willing to work with "anyone to advance commonsense proposals ensuring women in Arizona and across the country can access the health care they need and have the ability to make their own decisions about their futures."

"Arizona women should not be forced to travel out of state for health care services, and Arizona doctors should not be criminalized for caring for women in need," Sinema said.

— Steve Kilar

6:30 p.m. Friday: Arizona Senate Democrats express anger

Arizona Senate Democratic Leadership blamed Republicans and expressed anger over Friday's ruling:

“This ruling is the outcome of a decades-long attack on women, reproductive health, and individual liberty. The Republican party that has delivered this blow to millions of Arizonans knows exactly the kind of hell they were crafting. This will kill women, break apart families, and trap so many into generational cycles of abuse and poverty. It is hateful and disgusting," said the Senate Democratic Leadership in a statement. "No healthcare decision should be decided by the government.”

— Steve Kilar

6:15 p.m. Friday: Ruling's political consequences

The ruling is likely to exacerbate the political consequences of the Dobbs decision in Arizona.

Supporters of reproductive rights rallied against that decision, and Democratic candidates have sharpened their messaging on the issue with the midterm election approaching, emphasizing Republicans' preference to restrict abortion or ban it entirely.

— Ray Stern and Stacey Barchenger