Prosecutor in Arizona’s largest county says she won't prosecute women who have abortions

A judge lifted an injunction on Arizona's pre-Roe v. Wade abortion ban, outlawing abortion except to protect life of mother.

Updated: September 28, 2022 - 11:46pm

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Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell posted a video on Facebook Tuesday clarifying Arizona state law regarding abortion and that she will not prosecute women who have the procedures.

"I know this is a highly emotionally charged subject, and I want the community to know that I will not prosecute women for having abortions," Mitchell said in the video.

Arizona state law does not allow women to be prosecuted for having an abortion, which Mitchell acknowledged in the video. The legal burden instead falls on the practitioner performing the procedure.

A Pima County judge lifted an injunction on Arizona's pre-Roe v. Wade abortion ban last week. Now, abortion is legal in the state only to protect the life of the mother.

Doctors and other medical professionals who conduct illegal abortions are subject to a two-to-five year prison sentence under Arizona law.

Mitchell also expressed sympathy for rape and incest victims in the video.

"I will not re-victimize survivors of rape, incest, or molestation," Mitchell said. "I've spent my career defending people that have suffered those crimes." Mitchell noted there have yet to be any cases submitted to the office pertaining to illegal abortions.

The Democrat in the race, Julie Gunnigle, also issued a video statement about the law on social media. In hers, she said that she would not prosecute any doctors who perform illegal abortions.

"I want to know under what circumstances will it ever be in the interest of justice to prosecute a doctor for providing healthcare," Gunnigle said in her video.

Elective abortions are illegal in 13 of the 50 states as of Wednesday week.