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'Extreme, draconian law': Confusion over Arizona's abortion laws continue as Dems and doctors respond

Planned Parenthood and other doctors told 12 News they already stopped abortions last Friday when the Supreme Court's decision was revealed.

ARIZONA, USA — The fight over abortion access in Arizona rages on after two announcements from Attorney General Mark Brnovich posted to Twitter this week.

RELATED: Arizona can fully ban abortion in just a few weeks, attorney general says

The first tweet came Wednesday night, saying Brnovich's office determined that a century-old Arizona abortion ban from 1901 should be in effect now that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. He stated his office plans to file in court to lift an injunction on that old law out of Pima County.

On Thursday, Brnovich posted another tweet saying that the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, lifting an injunction on a law that bans abortion based on gender, race or abnormalities passed last year in Arizona. The decision called for vacating the injunction while a legal fight continues playing out in court. 

When it comes to the 1901 law, Arizona Democrats and doctors held a press conference calling out Arizona's top prosecutor outside his office Thursday.

"This extreme, draconian law criminalizes abortion at all stages of pregnancy with no exception for rape or incest," said Sen. Rebecca Rios (D). "And mandates jail time for anyone who facilitates an abortion."

Rios and Attorney General hopeful Kris Mayes called on people to keep responses to the 1901 abortion law top of mind when they go to the polls in November.

Two doctors also spoke out with Rios and Mayes at the press conference. Under the 1901 law, doctors and other care providers could face 2-5 years in prison for providing an abortion. 

"All people deserve high-quality care and should not fear that speaking about abortion with their healthcare providers will land either them or their physician in jail," said Dr. Viktoria Krajnc.

There is confusion, though, over whether this law is the one in effect.

Earlier this year, Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill that would allow for abortion up to 15 weeks. It won’t go into effect until September, however, this new law does not repeal the 1901 law banning all abortions, unless a mother’s life is on the line.

The governor’s team told 12 News he was not available to clarify on Thursday.

When it comes to Brnovich’s take, ASU law professor Paul Bender said it’s just that – his take. But it's one that might give pause.

"What he says is his opinion and only his opinion," Bender explained. "But when the Attorney General says a law is in effect and you’re a doctor, are you going to take that chance?"

Planned Parenthood and other doctors told 12 News they already stopped abortions last Friday when the Supreme Court's decision was revealed.

Then there’s Dr. Ronald Yunis, who as of Monday was still providing abortions. When 12 News called his office Thursday, a day after Brnovich’s tweet, we were told he stopped giving abortions, and wouldn’t take any more questions.

So, what now?

Bender sees a few options.

He believes it will be up to the courts to determine which parts of which abortion bans are in effect.

A change can also possibly come from the state legislature when they’re back in session or a ballot initiative protecting abortion that's gaining traction, so long as it gets enough signatures to qualify for a vote.

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