Maricopa County Attorney says she won’t prosecute women who seek abortion
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- As Arizona’s abortion law remains in legal limbo, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said she won’t prosecute women who seek an abortion. Her office released a video statement on Facebook addressing recent rumors that women who sought abortion care could face charges.
“I will not prosecute women for having abortions, and no statute even suggests a woman will be prosecuted for her decision,” Mitchell said. “Likewise, I will not revictimize survivors of rape, incest, or molestation.” She, however, didn’t answer if she would prosecute cases against doctors as the law would dictate. Under the new law, abortion providers would face two to five years in prison.
Social media rumors have swirled about the county’s top prosecutor’s position on abortion and how her office would handle such cases. “False statements being made about the law or about my position in order to sow fear for political gain are simply irresponsible,” said Mitchell.
While her office hasn’t received any abortion-related cases, she says she will seek the court’s guidance on what law to follow when her office does receive a request. For now, her office plans to focus on prosecuting violent crimes and the growing surge of fentanyl, in addition to what she calls other public safety threats.
Her comments come one day after Planned Parenthood of Arizona asked a state judge to put on hold a Pima County ruling that allows prosecutors to enforce the Civil War-era law banning abortion in nearly all cases. The state’s largest abortion provider said the ruling issued late Friday has created confusion about the status of the law in Arizona. Its lawyers cited conflicts created by the abortion ban dating to 1864, a more recent law banning abortions after 15 weeks, and a variety of other laws regulating the processes and paperwork when terminating pregnancies.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson’s ruling lifted a 50-year-old injunction blocking enforcement of the 1864 law, which allows abortion only when the mother’s life is in danger. The injunction was imposed after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision guaranteed a right to abortion in 1973.
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