The Future of Life in Arizona

Correction: When Justice Bill Montgomery recused himself from the pre-Roe case, he did not cite the reason as being pressure from abortion advocates. I should not have made that statement. My piece below has been corrected from the original version. Read his order of recusal here.

The future of life in Arizona is in the hands of six Arizona Supreme Court justices. They will decide if unborn life is protected in all but cases where the life of the mother is at risk, or only after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Oral arguments presented by both sides earlier this week were convoluted even to many attorneys, mostly because of the rarity of the situation. The attorneys involved strategically argued that the pre-Roe law and the 15-week limit could be in effect simultaneously, but each claimed the “harmonized” version benefited their side.

Jake Warner of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) told the Court the strong pre-Roe law and the 15-week limitation should be the law of the land, with the pre-Roe protections guiding. Under this notion, abortions prior to 15 weeks are limited to cases where the woman’s life is at risk; abortion after 15 weeks is also limited to cases where the woman’s life is at risk but must also constitute an immediate medical emergency. This view, he said, is established by language in the newer law (the 15-week limit) that expressly defers to the pre-Roe law.

Andy Gaona representing Planned Parenthood argued the Court should see the two laws as compatible only in that the pre-Roe law is on the books, but basically cannot be enforced. He argued that lawmakers never wanted to outlaw abortion because they continued to pass only restrictive laws over the 50 years of Roe – this ignores the fact that Roe prohibited lawmakers from outlawing abortion.

At one point, Gaona seemed to grandstand, schooling the justices on how, as he puts it, “abortion is healthcare.” He went on to warn the Court “not to make the same mistake” the U.S. Supreme Court made in Dobbs. That was met with a quick correction from the Court.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes refuses to defend the pre-Roe law and has gone further to demand all 15 county attorneys do not prosecute pro-life laws. After the hearing, Mayes gathered with pro-abortion activists in speaking out against protections for unborn Arizonans.

Earlier this year, CAP filed this amicus brief arguing that the pre-Roe law should be fully enforceable.

A Recent Twist Further Complicates

The Court will decide this critical case with just six justices instead of seven, after Justice Bill Montgomery recused himself. The Court can rule at any time and the result could go one of three ways:

  • The Court opinion either overrules the lower court and upholds the pre-Roe law protecting unborn babies and their mothers.
  • The Court sides with the lower court ruling upholding the 15-week law and blocking full enforcement of the pre-Roe
  • It ends in a three-three tie. In that case, the lower court ruling stands; abortion is legal up to 15 weeks in Arizona. That’s almost four months.

Either way, the battle is not over. Abortion activists are currently collecting signatures to get a very extreme abortion constitutional amendment on the November 2024 ballot that would allow abortion up to birth, shut parents out of the process, and remove the commonsense safety precautions currently in effect. Visit for more information.

We will let you know as soon as we hear from the Court.

CAP’s Year End

With December upon us, we invite you to prayerfully consider making a year-end, tax-deductible contribution to Center for Arizona Policy. As your champion for Life, Marriage and Family, and Religious Freedom, you can be assured that we will continue to stand for you and your family in 2024 and beyond! You can contribute by clicking hereThank you!


  • Read and listen here to a video op-ed I recorded for the Arizona Republic about the extreme consequences of the proposed abortion amendment that puts girls and women at risk.
  • Read here how the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an important free speech and religious freedom case.
  • Read here about a major pro-life case headed to the U.S. Supreme Court that claims the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ignored safety protocols to approve the abortion pill mifepristone.


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