By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An Arizona judge ruled on Friday that a 1901 ban on nearly all abortions in the state can be enforced after being blocked for about 50 years, a decision that drew immediate criticism from abortion-rights activists and Democrats and is likely to be appealed.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson granted a request by the state’s Republican attorney general to lift a court injunction that had barred enforcement of Arizona’s pre-statehood ban on abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Johnson’s ruling bans all abortions in Arizona except when the procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life.
Abortion-rights advocacy group Planned Parenthood said the ruling “has the practical and deplorable result of sending Arizonans back nearly 150 years.” Democratic gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs said she was “outraged and devastated” by the decision.
“The court finds that because the legal basis for the judgment entered in 1973 has now been overruled, it must vacate the judgment in its entirety,” Johnson said in her ruling.
The Supreme Court in June overturned the right to abortion it had recognized in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
“We applaud the court for upholding the will of the legislature and providing clarity and uniformity on this important issue,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a tweet after the ruling.
Democrats have been eager to cast Republicans as extreme on the abortion issue since the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade and many states began enforcing abortion bans.
Democrats are increasingly hopeful the Supreme Court decision will boost voter support in the midterm elections, with its control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate at stake.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe, about half of U.S. states are expected to seek to restrict abortions, or have already done so, sparking a wave of litigation around the country.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler)