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Arizona judge reinstates total abortion ban months after Roe v. Wade was overturned

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On June 24, 2022, America faced an unprecedented moment in history: the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that gave Americans the right to an abortion. After nearly 50 years of setting the national tone, Roe v. Wade suddenly could no longer protect people’s constitutional right to receive an abortion.

The decision gave individual states the power to decide how to legislate rules relating to abortion. Soon after Roe v. Wade was struck down, 13 states implemented total bans on abortion, according to an article published by the New York Times. On September 23, 2022, that number climbed to 14.

A frenzy of responses began to spread throughout the entire country immediately after Roe v. Wade’s overturn was announced. Some states instantly changed their policies to restrict access to abortion, while others acted to protect the former constitutional right. In multiple cities, such as Mississippi, New York, Virginia, Maine, Massachusetts and many more, massive protests were organized by citizens to oppose the decision.

Although the controversy over abortion is far from settled, the national uproar surrounding Roe v. Wade seems to have lessened since June. That is until Arizona Judge Kellie Johnson lifted an injunction on a law that had previously banned all abortions at any stage of pregnancy, with no exceptions for cases of rape and incest. The only exception to the ban is if the pregnancy posed a risk to the carrier’s life, the exact legal meaning of which is unclear. A copy of the ruling can be found here.

Johnson’s decision was initially followed by statewide confusion regarding the official legislation on abortions. According to an article published by the Washington Post, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey originally signed off on a different law that outlawed all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy in the spring of 2022, which was planned to take effect on September 24. However, just a day before, Johnson suddenly decided to lift the injunction on an older law and implement it in place of Ducey’s legislation. After multiple days of debate, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich determined that Judge Johnson’s ruling would be the prevailing law in the state.

According to the same article, the law passed by Judge Johnson originates from a law created in 1864, which was implemented during the Civil War and has not been modified since 1901. As a result of this ruling, clinics throughout the state must stop performing abortions to avoid criminal charges. In fact, healthcare providers who violate the law may face between two and five years in jail.

Although the ruling was legally settled, there continues to be massive controversy over this decision. Johnson argues that even if the proposed 15-week ban were to pass, it was never meant to overrule the older, overarching law from 1864. Pro-life supporters rejoiced at this verdict, while pro-choice supporters mourned the loss of a constitutional right. In fact, Planned Parenthood of Arizona, which was a plaintiff in this case, expressed that they will not allow this ban to be put into place in Arizona. They also stated that they will act upon their right to appeal this adjudication, which was discussed in the Washington Post article.

According to an article written by PBS, however, Arizona’s restriction on abortion has become so extreme that “some clinics have been referring patients to clinics in California and New Mexico.”

Students at Mills College at Northeastern University have reason to be reassured of their own reproductive rights; according to the California Center for Reproductive Rights website, abortion will remain legal in California in light of Roe v. Wade being overturned. In fact, in 1969, four years before Roe v. Wade was legalized, California’s highest court had already recognized the right to abortion.

Below is a list of local resources for reference:

  • Office of Health and Wellness, Mills College at Northeastern University
    • Provides resources on sexual and reproductive health
    • Address: Cowell Building
    • Contact Information:
      • Phone Number: 510-430-2260
      • Email Address:
  • Student Health Center, Mills College at Northeastern University
    • Provides health education and materials for protected sex
    • Address: CPM 117
    • Phone Number: 510-431-1108
  • Planned Parenthood Clinic, East Oakland / Coliseum Health Center
    • Performs abortions and provides other reproductive health services
    • Address: 8480 Enterprise Way, Oakland CA 94621
    • Phone Number: 510-746-7400
    • Website
  • Planned Parenthood Northern California Organization
    • Provides information on local reproductive health resources, local clinics, and information regarding abortion laws
    • Website

In Arizona and around the United States, the future of reproductive rights remains uncertain. However, in light of the current turmoil surrounding abortions in the United States, it becomes increasingly important to stay informed on the latest news on reproductive health, to be educated on the topic, and to be aware of local and national resources.