The White House condemned a Friday ruling in Arizona that allowed the state’s abortion ban to be enforced, saying that it will set women in the state back “more than a century.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Saturday that the potential consequences of the ruling are “catastrophic, dangerous, and unacceptable.”
The ban, which was originally passed in the 1800s before Arizona became a state and has been blocked since the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, forbids abortion in all cases except for when the life of the pregnant person is at risk.
“If this decision stands, health care providers would face imprisonment of up to five years for fulfilling their duty of care; survivors of rape and incest would be forced to bear the children of their assaulters; and women with medical conditions would face dire health risks,” Jean-Pierre said.
An Arizona judge ruled on Friday that the state could enforce the ban, as it was only blocked because of the court’s ruling in Roe. More than a dozen states have had trigger bans go into effect or passed legislation banning abortion since the court’s June ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the federal right to abortion.
Protecting abortion rights has become a key issue as Democrats vie to keep control of Congress in the November midterm elections.
Republicans, who have largely focused their attention on the economy and criticizing high inflation, were performing better in the generic congressional ballot and in certain individual races before Roe was overturned, and Democrats have closed the gap since then.
Polling has shown abortion access is one of the top issues on voters’ minds, trailing the economy as the top issue, but by a smaller margin than before June.
Several Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), have sought to distance themselves from Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) proposal to ban abortion federally after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Graham said on Tuesday that abortion is “not a states’ rights” issue, but Senate Republicans told The Hill that they support letting the decision be made at the state level.
Jean-Pierre said in her Saturday statement in reference to the Arizona ban, “Make no mistake: this backwards decision exemplifies the disturbing trend across the country of Republican officials at the local and national level dead-set on stripping women of their rights, including through Senator Graham’s proposed national abortion ban.”
Jean-Pierre said President Biden and Vice President Harris will continue to work to pass legislation to codify the abortion rights that Roe protected into federal law.