About 100 demonstrators gathered at the Arizona State Capitol on Saturday night and protested the near-total ban on abortion that a Pima County judge sided with a day earlier.
The ban stems from a law passed in 1864, before Arizona became a state. It imposes a prison sentence of two to five years on anyone who performs an abortion in almost any case, including rape or incest, except to save the life of the mother.
“We are extremely surprised and shocked. Essentially, after Roe v. Wade was overturned, the courts in Arizona needed to know if this old law still applied,” said activist Elsa Landeros. “And some of the activists and nonprofits who have been following the case closely agree that this is simply the worst possible outcome that could have happened.”
The protest also featured speeches from politicians, including State Senator Christine Marsh and US House candidate Javier Ramos. Marsh decried the decision as creating a new reality of “government mandated pregnancy”, while Ramos proclaimed that his primary goal if elected would be to codify Roe v. Wade through federal law.
State Senate candidate Thomas Duggar also condemned the decision and spoke to protesters about potential options for Senate Democrats.
“What I can do is I can work with the Republicans on these things. Let’s improve sex education. Help these babies come to term. Help the mothers, give them funding, give them time off. You know, I mean, think about it. . That’s what I can do. And I can convince them by making them feel guilty, can’t I? I mean, put your money where your money is. mouth,” Duggar said.
Some protesters said they believed the ruling would encourage more people, especially women, to vote for pro-choice Democrats in the midterm elections.
“Totally changes the game. Totally,” said protester Beth Ballman. “There are so many women who get fired for this.”
Landeros, an organizer with Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom and one of the main organizers of the rally, said that although the pre-state law includes a patient-saving exception, it is actually a ban. total.
“Abortion providers told us this was a total ban because most OBGYNs don’t perform abortions,” she said. Even in a situation where the patient’s life is in danger, she cannot be transported to an abortion provider in time to save her life, she said.
“The effects of this ban go far beyond just family planning, although family planning confidentiality should suffice,” Landeros said. “But the implications of that are that people are going to die.”
“The people of Arizona have just lost their bodily autonomy”:Abortion providers enraged by decision
When speakers began at 5:45 p.m., the focus was on getting people to vote in the Nov. 8 election — particularly for Attorney General candidate Kristin Mayes, gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs and Maricopa County District Attorney candidate Julie Gunnigle.
Candidates for various positions across the state addressed the crowd. Arizona State Senator Christine Marsh, who represents LD28, said she was anti-abortion until she became an adoptive mother.
“I ended up with an 11-year-old girl who had been raped and got pregnant,” she said. “At that moment, my whole mentality changed. And we are now in a reality where these young girls are completely unprotected.
A woman named Brianna, who chose not to share her last name, addressed the crowd and shared her experience of a life-saving abortion. Three years ago she had an unplanned ectopic pregnancy, she said.
“It was definitely not planned to have to make a choice, but I’m so damn grateful to have one,” she said. But she said yesterday’s decision put her ability to be a mother at risk.
“I’m 50% chance it will happen again,” she said. “God forbid my birth control fails and I find myself in that operating room again, this time I have no choice. My children no longer have a mother. I guarantee that no pro -life will not remove my children from foster care to care for them.
Jasmine Held-Hernandez, a protester at the rally, said rally attendees weren’t necessarily those who would be most affected by the decision.
“I, and I’m sure a lot of people who are here, are privileged enough to travel,” Held-Hernandez said. “I think it primarily affects minority communities, people of color, lower socio-economic communities, who don’t know their options, who can’t afford abortions. It’s about keeping the poor in poverty, and that is why I speak.
Cari King, an organizer with an activist group called Socialist Femmes Trans Inclusive United (STFU) that formed after Roe v. Wade, expressed surprise at yesterday’s decision and disappointment at the turnout at the rally.
“I didn’t think it would go this far,” she said. “I just hope people keep talking about it. Even though the group was small today, it was a bit overwhelming, so I just hope people don’t forget or give up.
Contact journalist Jeremy Yurow at [email protected]