Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs issued a broad executive order Friday to shield abortion providers from punishment.
Without a court order, local prosecutors cannot file abortion-related charges and state agencies cannot help in criminal investigations. Arizona will also deny extradition requests for abortion-related suspects.
“I will not allow extreme and out of touch politicians to get in the way of the fundamental right Arizonans have to make decisions about their bodies and futures,” the Democratic governor declared. “I will fight to expand safe and legal abortion in any way I can.”
Hobbs will also establish a special committee to advise on sexual and reproductive health care expansion.
Only Democratic Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes may prosecute abortion cases.
A 2022 legislation allows abortions in Arizona before 15 weeks. A statute from 1864 that criminalizes almost all abortions was overturned by the Arizona Court of Appeals last year. Roe v. Wade has prohibited such pre-statehood statute for decades.
Planned Parenthood Arizona President and CEO Brittany Fonteno termed Hobbs’ decision “promising and welcome.”
“This executive order will help ease the fear and uncertainty that swept through Arizona in the year since Roe was overturned,” Fonteno said.
The socially conservative Center for Arizona Policy president, Cathi Herrod, accused the governor of overreaching.
“In her zeal for abortion, Gov. Hobbs has exceeded her authority as governor,” Herrod added. “She cannot remove county attorneys’ clear enforcement authority under various Arizona laws.”
Hobbs’ move comes one year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Hobbs recently prioritized reproductive freedom. She supported state contraceptive laws on Thursday. Democratic lawmakers will present it in January. A Republican-controlled state Legislature makes the bill unlikely.
Copyright 2023 AP. Rights reserved. This content cannot be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.