Arizona abortion ruling will set women back 'more than a century' - White House

An Arizona judge ruled that ban on abortion set more than a century ago could be enforced in 2022 in the same manner as in 1901.

 Abortion rights activists protest against probable overturn of Roe v. Wade (photo credit: REUTERS/REBECCA NOBLE)
Abortion rights activists protest against probable overturn of Roe v. Wade
(photo credit: REUTERS/REBECCA NOBLE)

Friday's ruling allowing Arizona to enforce a ban on nearly all abortions, if allowed to stand, will result in "catastrophic, dangerous, and unacceptable" consequences for women, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Saturday.

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.

"Yesterday’s ruling in Arizona is dangerous and will set Arizona women back more than a century – to a time before Arizona was even a state," Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

The decision would force survivors of rape and incest to bear the children of their assaulters, while leaving health care providers to face imprisonment of up to five years for fulfilling their duty of care, she said.

"While we await next steps on any implementation of the law, the potential consequences of this ruling are catastrophic, dangerous, and unacceptable" she said.

 People protest the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v Wade abortion decision in New York City, New York, US, June 24, 2022. Picture taken June 24, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/CAITLIN OCHS) People protest the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v Wade abortion decision in New York City, New York, US, June 24, 2022. Picture taken June 24, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/CAITLIN OCHS)

Jean-Pierre said U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris would continue to push Congress to codify the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion that was overturned by the Supreme Court in June.

What does this ruling mean for the future of the procedure?

The Arizona ruling by 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 Supreme Court decision.

Johnson's ruling bans all abortions in Arizona except when the procedure is necessary to save the mother's life.

Biden suggested on Friday that the election of two more Democratic senators in November elections would open the possibility of Democrats removing the filibuster, a legislative roadblock that requires a 60-vote majority to overcome, which would enable Congress to restore federal abortion rights.

Democrats hold a bare majority in the Senate now, and two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema, have opposed ending the filibuster.

Ending the filibuster would require a simple majority. For any such move to be successful, Democrats need to retain control of the House and gain two seats in the Senate. Most forecasters suggest Republicans are likely to gain House control.