When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it returned to the states the power to make their own laws about abortion. And that’s exactly what the state of Arizona tried to do.
Through their elective representatives, Arizonans have chosen to protect life for decades. In 2022, then-Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked the courts to allow enforcement of a pre-Roe law protecting life from the moment of conception, and the state Superior Court ruled in his favor. But Planned Parenthood appealed and is now attempting to override the will of voters by seeking to strike down a law that has been affirmed multiple times.
What does Arizona’s pre-Roe law say?
Arizona’s law protects unborn children from the moment of conception—a position that has been bolstered by 50 years of scientific research since Roe v. Wade was decided.
Contrary to the so-called “viability” rules adopted in previous court cases, research shows that unborn babies’ hearts begin to beat at just six weeks—months before they can survive outside the womb. At eight weeks, babies have visible fingers and toes. At ten weeks, their fingerprints begin to develop, further affirming their unique personhood.
Arizona’s law forbids all people, including physicians, from performing an abortion except to save a mother’s life. The law is designed to protect unborn children, and it is also crafted to protect women from the heightened risk of illness and physical or mental trauma that can come with elective abortions.
Who is Alliance Defending Freedom representing in this case?
When this lawsuit began, pro-life Attorney General Mark Brnovich was in office, and he was seeking to defend the pro-life law that Arizonans had voted for through their representatives. But following the midterm elections in 2022, pro-abortion Attorney General Kris Mayes assumed office.
Mayes vowed not to defend Arizona’s law against the challenge from Planned Parenthood. So ADF filed a motion to intervene on behalf of Yavapai County Attorney Dennis McGrane.
ADF previously intervened on behalf of Dr. Eric Hazelrigg, an obstetrician and medical director of Choices Pregnancy Center in Arizona. As the director of a pro-life pregnancy center, Dr. Hazelrigg has a unique interest in protecting Arizona’s unborn children. The Arizona Court of Appeals has recognized that unborn lives are worthy of protection, and Dr. Hazelrigg is an expert in this field from his work providing women with essential prenatal care. McGrane, meanwhile has a vested interest in protecting the laws of Arizona, which Mayes has chosen not to do. Both McGrane and Dr. Hazelrigg were granted intervention in the case.
Why is it important to defend this law?
First, Arizonans have chosen to protect life through their elected representatives for decades. The state’s pre-Roe law was initially codified as a territorial law in 1901, and it was reenacted in 1977.
In September 2022, an Arizona judge again affirmed the law and ruled that it could take effect. Arizona also passed another law protecting life after 15 weeks, and that law specifically stated that it did not repeal the pre-Roe law at issue in this case.
Despite all this, Planned Parenthood is attempting to strike down the law. Dr. Hazelrigg and Dennis McGrane understand the importance of protecting unborn children and upholding Arizona’s duly elected laws, which is why they chose to intervene in this case.
Second, elective abortions not only kill unborn children but also put women in danger. Women who undergo elective abortions suffer a heightened risk of death, illness, and psychological trauma.
Abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood rely on performing abortions to make a profit. They lie to women about abortion and its consequences and pressure women into thinking that abortion is their only option. Arizona’s law and others like it around the country will ensure that women actually receive the care and support they need.
- September 2022: The Arizona Superior Court in Pima County ruled that Arizona’s pre-Roe law protecting life could go into effect.
- December 2022: The Arizona Court of Appeals rewrote the law and enjoined the portion allowing for physicians to be prosecuted if they perform unlawful abortions. This decision effectively rendered the law unenforceable.
- March 2023: ADF attorneys asked the Arizona Supreme Court to restore the law.
- August 2023: The Arizona Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.