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About 20 women, most of whom are attorneys, dressed in red cloaks and white hoods, walked synchronized in silence in front of the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse in downtown Phoenix on Sunday to honor late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and to protest the plan to replace her with Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Christina Carter, an attorney who has represented many people arrested at protests against police violence this year, was one of the organizers for the event. The cloaks and hoods were a reference to Margaret Atwood’s book “The Handmaid’s Tale,” where women are “concubines to the person in power” and treated as “incubators for babies,” Carter said.
Activists fear that if Barrett is confirmed, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to choose an abortion, will be overturned. In Arizona, this could have a significant impact.
Three laws that ban abortion are still in effect under Arizona law.
Arizona’s three laws banning abortion
Arizona has three laws banning abortion that were enacted in 1901 and renumbered in 1977. The wording of them now is identical to how they appeared in state statute in 1928.
According to A.R.S. 13-3603, anyone who helps a woman perform an abortion on herself, “unless it is necessary to save her life,” can face two to five years in prison.
According to A.R.S. 13-3604, a woman who has an abortion can face one to five years in prison.
A.R.S. 13-3605 says anyone who advertises birth control or ways to induce or perform abortions is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Roe v. Wade prevents these laws from being enforced, but if it is overturned, these nearly century-old laws could come back into effect.
More:Arizona still has a law banning abortion on the books
How Roe v. Wade intersects with the Maricopa County Attorney race
Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel wrote in a 2020 candidate questionnaire from the American Civil Liberties Union that she has an “ethical and legal obligation to enforce the law,” when asked if she would commit to not prosecuting either a doctor performing or a patient seeking an abortion should either or both ever become illegal in Arizona. Adel, a Republican, is running for reelection against Democrat Julie Gunnigle.
But Lorna Romero, Adel’s campaign spokeswoman, wrote in an email to the Arizona Republic on Sundaythat “It is important to remember that there is no case before the Supreme Court. But in the rare event that Roe v. Wade is overturned, Allister will not prosecute a woman for their health care choices.”
Gunnigle said she would not enforce these “outdated” laws. She said regardless of where people stand on the morality of abortion and birth control, they don’t want to see women and doctors end up in prison for it.
“That’s why we elect this person because we don’t want a prosecutor to be acting robotically or without judgement or common sense and enact every single law and rule violation possible,” she said, referring to the position of county attorney.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, Arizona is one of eight states that still has pre-Roe abortion laws in current legislation. Women in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wisconsin could all be criminalized if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
“We’re just one vote away from this and it’s going to place your county attorney at the center of the most intimate decisions in a person’s reproductive life. It literally makes the county attorney the most powerful person in making these decisions for any Arizona woman and that should be shocking,” Gunnigle said.
Final confirmation vote for Barrett expected for Monday
Arizona Rep. Isela Blanc, D-Tempe, said this Supreme Court nomination puts young women’s ability to decide what is best for themselves and their bodies in danger, especially for women in Arizona.
“We’ve seen a devolving of what I’ve known to be the America that we were taught to believe in,” Blanc said. “It’s really sad. There are no words to describe it.”
The final confirmation vote for Barrett is expected to take place Monday. She would be the third Supreme Court pick from President Donald Trump to be added to the court — meaning one third of the court will have been nominated by Trump.