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Tags: arizona | kris mayes | katie hobbs | abortion | laws

Ariz. AG Won't Enforce State's Abortion Laws, 'Period'

By    |   Monday, 03 July 2023 05:30 PM EDT

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said that she will not prosecute doctors for violating the state's abortion laws, including the 15-week ban on the controversial procedure.

"I have been clear that we are not going to prosecute doctors and women in the state of Arizona for abortion, period," Mayes told Capitol Media Services. "[Abortion] is not a place for government intervention … prosecutorial resources should not be spent on trying to put doctors in jail.''

Mayes' announcement follows an executive order issued by Democrat Gov. Katie Hobbs on June 23 that strips county prosecutors of their ability to pursue charges against those who violate the state's abortion laws and gives fellow Democrat Mayes complete authority over the criminal laws that govern the procedure.

"The Attorney General shall assume all duties with regard to any criminal prosecution of a medical provider … for violation of any State law restricting or prohibiting abortion care … without limitation," Hobbs' executive order states.

Capitol Media Services reported that Hobbs justified the order by saying she wanted to ensure consistent enforcement among the 15 counties as legal wrangling continues over which of two laws restricting abortion would be enforced. One of the laws bans all abortions except to save the life of the mother and the other allows the procedure through the 15th week of pregnancy.

Mayes, who took office in January along with Hobbs, said she and the governor "didn't take this step lightly."

"This is an extraordinary situation," she said according to published reports. "The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a right we had for 50 years. Arizonans elected a Democratic governor and AG who are pro-choice, and elections have consequences. Some Republicans are unhappy about it, but this is a consequence of Dobbs."

Rachel Mitchell, the lead prosecutor for Maricopa County, said that she and other county attorneys are considering mounting a legal challenge to Hobbs' executive order.

"Our current governor took an entire category of potential offenses and is attempting to prevent locally elected county attorneys from reviewing and making charging decisions in those matters," Mitchell said at a press conference Wednesday.

The Republican attorney also cautioned against the precedent the move could set.

"What happens when another person occupies the governor's seat and attempts this kind of power grab?" she asked. "What other set of offenses might a governor in the future not like and remove from local prosecutors?"

Mayes dismissed the question, saying this should only be seen in the context of abortion laws.

Calling her actions an abuse of power, Arizona Senate Republicans condemned Hobbs' actions and canceled all further hearings for her nominations until a meeting could be arranged.

"You hold the office of Governor in Arizona, not of monarch," Republican senators wrote in a letter to Hobbs, calling the executive order a "blatant disregard for separation of powers."

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Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said that she will not prosecute doctors for violating the state's abortion laws, including the 15-week ban on the controversial procedure.
arizona, kris mayes, katie hobbs, abortion, laws
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2023-30-03
Monday, 03 July 2023 05:30 PM
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