Arizona upholds near-total abortion ban from 1864 as Biden decries "cruel" ruling

Phoenix, Arizona - The top court in Arizona, a key presidential election swing state, on Tuesday ruled that a 160-year-old near-total ban on abortion is enforceable, meaning that doctors performing the procedure could be jailed for five years.

President Biden slammed the decision of the Arizona Supreme Court to uphold an extreme abortion ban from 1864.
President Biden slammed the decision of the Arizona Supreme Court to uphold an extreme abortion ban from 1864.  © Collage: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP & Jemal Countess / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The legal ruling triggered major political shock waves, ensuring that the deeply divisive issue of reproductive rights will feature heavily in November when Arizona will be one of the states President Joe Biden and his Republican challenger, Donald Trump, both have a good chance to win.

In a statement issued almost immediately after the news broke, Biden slammed the "cruel ban."

Citing the Supreme Court's 2022 ruling that ended a nationwide guarantee of abortion access, Arizona's top court said the draconian local law, dating back to the Civil War era, could stand.

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Arizona was not even a separate state when the law was drafted, and women in the United States at the time had no right to vote.

Tuesday's legal ruling included a 14-day stay on enforcement.

Further clouding the issue is the fact that Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, has vowed she will not enforce a ruling she called an "unconscionable... affront to freedom."

"Today's decision to reimpose a law from a time when Arizona wasn't a state, the Civil War was raging, and women couldn't even vote will go down in history as a stain on our state," she said. "This is far from the end of the debate on reproductive freedom, and I look forward to the people of Arizona having their say in the matter.

"And let me be completely clear, as long as I am Attorney General, no woman or doctor will be prosecuted under this draconian law in this state."

Biden said Republicans were "ripping away" women's rights.

Biden blames "extreme" Republicans for draconian abortion ban

Donald Trump recently said he favored letting states decide their own rules on abortion as reproductive rights take center stage in the 2024 presidential election.
Donald Trump recently said he favored letting states decide their own rules on abortion as reproductive rights take center stage in the 2024 presidential election.  © MEGAN BRIGGS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

"Millions of Arizonans will soon live under an even more extreme and dangerous abortion ban," Biden said in the statement.

The ruling comes the day after de facto Republican presidential candidate Trump said he favored letting states decide their own rules on abortion.

Trumpeting his role in the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe vs Wade – the half-century-old framework that established a national right to reproductive freedom – Trump said the law was now where Americans wanted it.

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"My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint, the states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both," the Republican said in a video posted on his Truth Social network.

"And whatever they decide must be the law of the land, in this case, the law of the state."

Biden has said that if re-elected and Democrats regain full control of Congress, he will push for federal abortion rights to become law again.

Cover photo: Collage: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP & Jemal Countess / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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