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Arizona Supreme Court upholds state’s pro-life law

by | Apr 11, 2024

Significant state high court ruling overturns appellate court decision that misinterpreted law meant to protect unborn lives

PHOENIX – The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Tuesday to uphold the state’s pro-life law as written by overturning a lower court decision that misinterpreted the law. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Dr. Eric Hazelrigg, an obstetrician and medical director of Choices Pregnancy Center in Arizona, who filed a petition last March asking the state’s high court to review an Arizona Court of Appeals ruling.

The appellate court’s ruling misinterpreted state law, against its plain meaning, to allow abortion in circumstances where the Arizona Legislature prohibited it. It also enjoined officials from fully enforcing the state’s pro-life law to protect unborn children. The Arizona Supreme Court reversed this ruling, allowing the law to be enforced as written.

“Life is a human right, and today’s decision allows the state to respect that right and fully protect life again—just as the legislature intended,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jake Warner, who argued before the court. “Life begins at conception. At just six weeks, unborn babies’ hearts begin to beat. At eight weeks, they have fingers and toes. And at 10 weeks, their unique fingerprints begin to form. Arizona’s pro-life law has protected unborn children for over 100 years, and the people of Arizona, through their elected representatives, have repeatedly affirmed that law, including as recently as 2022. We celebrate the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision that allows the state’s pro-life law to again protect the lives of countless, innocent unborn children.”

“We conclude that [Arizona’s law] does not create a right to, or otherwise provide independent statutory authority for, an abortion that repeals or restricts [the law], but rather is predicated entirely on the existence of a federal constitutional right to an abortion since disclaimed by Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” the court wrote in its opinion in Planned Parenthood Arizona v. Mayes.

“Absent the federal constitutional abortion right, and because [the law] does not independently authorize abortion, there is no provision in federal or state law prohibiting [the law’s] operation. Accordingly, [Arizona’s law] is now enforceable.”

In September 2022, the Arizona Superior Court in Pima County appointed Hazelrigg as the substitute guardian ad litem to legally represent the best interests of unborn children in Arizona, a role Arizona courts have recognized for over 50 years.

Categories: State Legislation