Arizona Supreme Court delays implementation date of 1864 law banning abortion

PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court on Monday granted a petition to delay enforcement of the state's near-total ban on abortion that dates back to 1864.

The court granted Attorney General Kris Mayes' request for an additional 90 days before the Civil War-era ban can be enforced.

Although Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs signed a repeal of the ban on May 2, that measure cannot take effect until 90 days after the state legislative session, which is still ongoing, ends. Monday's court order essentially reduces the period in which the ban could apply, if at all.

“I am grateful that the Arizona Supreme Court stayed enforcement of the 1864 law and granted our request to stay the order in this case for another 90 days,” Mayes stated in a statement Monday.

He also said his office “will consider the best course of legal action to take from here,” which could include asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.

Earlier, Mayes' office said the 1864 ban would take effect on June 27. Monday's court decision pushes that date back to Sept. 26, according to his office.

The effective date depends largely on when the state legislative session ends. Last year it ended on July 31. If lawmakers stuck to that schedule, the ban could apply for about a month, from September 26 to the end of October, according to the new forecasts. But it is still unclear when this year's session will end.

With the enforcement delay, the state is operating under a 15-week ban on abortions approved in 2022 — signed by the governor at the time, Doug Ducey, a Republican — that makes exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.

That law has a coalition of reproductive rights organizations trying to get a constitutional amendment on the state's ballot in November. The amendment would enshrine the right to abortion up to fetal viability and significantly expand the scope of exceptions.

The coalition, known as Arizona for Abortion Access, is on track to get the referendum on the ballot.

In a statement Monday, a coalition spokesperson said the state Supreme Court order does nothing to undo the 2022 law.

“With this order, Arizonans remain subject to another extreme ban, punishing patients who suffer pregnancy complications and survivors of rape and incest,” said spokesman Chris Love.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022, abortion rights have been on the ballot in more than half a dozen states. Each time, even in red states like Kansas and Ohio, abortion rights advocates have prevailed.