Filed in state court, the lawsuit seeks to clarify doctors’ obligations under multiple, conflicting abortion laws, which have forced providers to cease abortion services for fear of criminal prosecution.
In 1973, after the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade, the state’s Civil War-era total abortion ban (A.R.S. 13-3603) was enjoined. The criminal ban contains no exceptions for rape, incest, or threats to a pregnant person’s health, and threatens imprisonment up to five years for providers who violate the law.
After the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion in June 2022, however, a Pima County Superior Court Judge granted the Arizona Attorney General’s request to lift the injunction that had blocked enforcement of the criminal ban. That decision, issued on September 23, 2022, forced clinics to stop providing abortion care to avoid criminal penalties.
Arizona had enacted a 15-week abortion ban in March 2022, which took effect on September 24, 2022, the day after the Civil-War era total ban was reinstated. The 15-week ban would enable physicians to provide abortion care without risk of criminal prosecution and allow abortion services to resume in the state.
On October 3, 2022, the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners filed Paul A. Isaacson, M.D., and the Arizona Medical Association v. State of Arizona, asking the Maricopa County Superior Court to clarify the state’s abortion laws and how they interact and work in practice—particularly, how the Civil War-era total abortion ban interacts with more recent laws on the books that recognize legal abortion.
On October 25, 2022, the State of Arizona announced that it will not enforce the total ban until 45 days after the final mandate on the law is issued in a separate case.
Abortion services are currently legal for the first 15 weeks of pregnancy in Arizona, per the law passed in March 2022.
Center Attorneys: Gail Deady, Cici Coquillette, and Jasmine Yunus
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Arizona, and Perkins Coie
Plaintiffs: Paul A. Isaacson, M.D. and Arizona Medical Association, on behalf of itself and its members
|March 30, 2022||Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signs a 15-week ban into law, in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court overruling Roe v. Wade and eliminating the constitutional right to abortion.|
|September 23, 2022||A Pima County Superior Court Judge grants the Arizona Attorney General’s request to lift the injunction on a Civil-War era total abortion ban, allowing the ban to go into effect. Abortion services in the state are halted.|
|October 03, 2022||The Center and its partners file a new lawsuit in Maricopa County, arguing that the 15-week ban should supersede the total ban, which would allow physicians to provide abortion care for up to 15 weeks without criminal penalties.|
|October 07, 2022||The Arizona Court of Appeals temporarily blocks enforcement of the total ban while litigation continues in our partners’ Pima County challenge to the ban.|
|October 25, 2022||As a result of the lawsuit filed by the Center on October 3, the State of Arizona announces that it will not enforce the total ban in any way until 45 days after a final mandate is issued in the separate Pima County case regarding the law.|