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Planned Parenthood seeks pause of Arizona abortion ruling

Missouri and American flags fly outside Planned Parenthood June 24, 2022, in St. Louis.Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — Planned Parenthood asked an Arizona judge Monday to put on hold a ruling that allowed prosecutors to enforce a Civil War-era law banning abortion in nearly all cases.

The state's largest abortion provider said the ruling issued late Friday has created confusion about the status of the law in Arizona. Its lawyers cited conflicts created by the abortion ban dating to 1864, a more recent law banning abortions after 15 weeks, and a variety of other laws regulating the processes and paperwork when terminating pregnancies.

“This confusion has forced Planned Parenthood Arizona to pause abortion services and cancel appointments scheduled this week – meaning that members of our community once again have been and will continue to be denied medical care that they deserve and need while this decision is in effect,” Brittany Fonteno, the group's president and CEO, said in a statement.

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Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson's ruling lifted a 50-year-old injunction blocking enforcement of the 1864 law, which allows abortion only when the mother's life is in danger. The injunction was imposed after the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision guaranteed a right to abortion on 1973.

Planned Parenthood asked Johnson to put her ruling on hold pending an appeal.

Arizona's political leaders have issued inconsistent opinions about the state of the law. Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich has said the 1864 law is in full force, while Gov. Doug Ducey, also a Republican, has said he believes the less restrictive 15-week law takes precedence.

Arizona clinics have been performing about 13,000 abortions a year.