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Arizona appeals court temporarily blocks enforcement of near-total abortion ban


By Taylor Romine and Kyung Lah, CNN

An Arizona appeals court on Friday temporarily blocked the enforcement of a ban on nearly all abortions across the state after a three-judge panel voted to grant an emergency stay filed by Planned Parenthood, court documents show.

The ruling temporarily allows health providers to perform abortions up to 15 weeks of pregnancy until Planned Parenthood Arizona’s appeal is resolved.

The organization had appealed a ruling last month by Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson, who said that the state’s 1901 ban on nearly all abortions could be enforced. Johnson’s ruling came a day before a 15-week ban on abortion took effect in the state and it effectively outlawed all abortions there except when the procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life.

On Friday, Judge Peter Eckerstrom wrote in the order that “Arizona courts have a responsibility to attempt to harmonize all of this state’s relevant statutes.”

“The court further concludes the balance of hardships weigh strongly in favor of granting the stay, given the acute need of healthcare providers, prosecuting agencies, and the public for legal clarity as to the application of our criminal laws,” the order stated.

Brittni Thomason, a spokesperson for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, said in a statement following the ruling that “our office understands this is an emotional issue, and we will carefully review the court’s ruling before determining the next step.”

Planned Parenthood Arizona applauded the decision, saying that “while today’s order brings temporary respite” to state residents, there is still an “ongoing threat of this extreme, near-total abortion ban.”

“For over 100 days, Arizonans have experienced pure chaos and confusion and it has been traumatic for our physicians and staff who have been forced to notify patients that they can no longer care for them,” said president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona Brittany Fonteno. “The court’s decision to issue a stay while the legal process continues to unfold will allow Planned Parenthood Arizona to resume abortion care services. Planned Parenthood Arizona is committed to defending reproductive freedom for all and continuing this fight until this 150-year-old law is taken off the books for good.”

Fonteno said the organization is working to resume clinic operations across the state, but exact dates for specific locations are yet to be announced.

“We are working diligently already to resume abortion care in the Tuscon area, and unfortunately with such a big operation as Planned Parenthood, as the biggest abortion provider in the state, resuming care isn’t as easy as flipping on a light switch,” Fonteno said.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Maeve Reston and Shawna Mizelle contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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