The White House has sharply criticized a court decision that could make abortions in the US state of Arizona almost impossible in the future. The decision was “catastrophic, dangerous and unacceptable,” said government spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre. This would set women in Arizona back “by more than a century”.
On Friday, a judge in Arizona’s Pima County ruled that a law dating from 1864 must be reinstated. It allows abortions only when the mother’s life is at risk. In all other cases they are forbidden.
Supreme Court paved the way
The 1864 law had been blocked by a 1973 ruling by the US Supreme Court in Roe versus Wade, which provided a constitutional right to abortion. In June of this year, however, the Supreme Court overturned this right. It was left to the individual states to develop new guidelines.
If Arizona’s “backward-looking decision” stands, doctors who perform abortions face “up to five years in prison for fulfilling their duty of care,” explained Jean-Pierre. “Victims of rape and incest would be forced to carry their abusers’ children to term.” The decision “exemplifies the disturbing trend in the country” that Republicans are trying to deprive women of their rights, said spokeswoman for Democratic US President Joe Biden.
The decision can still be appealed. But she is likely to move the sensitive issue of abortion even further into the center of the election campaign before the midterm congressional elections in November.
wa/ack (afp, dpa)