Arizona’s Abortion Ban

Arizona Supreme Court. Image source: Matt York / AP Photo

On Tuesday, April 9, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that an old law from 1864 banning abortions could be enforced. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. The law that dates back to before Arizona became a state criminalizes medical professionals who provide abortions or abortion drugs. It punishes them with prison sentences of 2-5 years unless it is determined that abortion is deemed necessary to save the life of the mother. The mother would have to be facing imminent death to be eligible. Additional legal penalties would be added to abortion providers who carried out abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Roe v. Wade, the decision that guaranteed abortion rights, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022. This has created the context for far-right forces within the states to impose oppressive restrictions on women’s right to an abortion such as this one.

This new ruling is set to go into effect on April 23, which would mean that the average of 1,100 Arizona women who seek abortion per month would be affected then. This would mean death for many mothers who suffer complications from pregnancy, or from seeking unsafe back-alley abortions. It will mean that many children will be born into homes that are incapable of caring for them. More than anything, it is a vicious attack on working-class women.

The law is so extreme and unpopular that anyone who has any political sense has wanted to distance themselves from it. The Arizona Attorney General has said outright that she has no intentions of prosecuting anyone under this law. Even Kari Lake, Donald Trump’s staunch ally, former Arizona gubernatorial candidate, and conservative conspiracy fanatic, has spoken out against the law.

Certainly, this is a huge political gift to the Democratic Party, who will use this as a campaign talking point against the Republican Party all throughout this year’s election and likely beyond. But how has looking to the Democrats as protectors of abortion rights worked out over the years? Not great to say the least. Over the almost 50 years that Roe v. Wade was in effect, there were multiple times when Democrats controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress in which they could have written abortion into federal law, but chose not to. Meanwhile, the Democrats put up the most feeble and pathetic attempts to stop the various abortion restrictions put forwards by Republicans at the state level, which led to the situation today.

The question of reproductive freedom, or any of our other rights that are under assault, will not be addressed in the ballot box but in the streets when we mobilize ourselves independent of forces like the Democratic Party. Our rights should not be pieces in a political game for this or that election cycle. Fighting for them and defending them will take a struggle that goes beyond anything that we have seen before. We must look to ourselves to defend our rights!