This week, the Arizona State Capitol will remain closed off with two lines of fencing and razor wire to protect the area from any future pro-abortion protesters.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) requested the Arizona National Guard install razor wire to existing fencing after the rioting and destruction that occurred at the capitol last Friday and Saturday. The protests occurred in response to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling overturning a constitutional right to abortion, fully entrusting abortion law to the states.
On Friday, AZDPS estimated around 7,000 to 8,000 pro-abortion protestors flocked to the Arizona State Capitol Complex; some of the mob attempted to breach the Arizona Senate building. The Arizona Senate was in session at the time, undertaking a historic vote to universalize the state’s school choice program.
AZDPS described the force of the mob as so great that it shook the Senate building and bent glass windows and doors. Protesters also vandalized the collection of war memorials surrounding the capitol. Senate Republicans estimated that current damages cost over $10,000.
“The violence of their efforts literally shook the building and terrified citizens and lawmakers who occupied the building. As the glass doors bowed from attempts of forced entry, the occupants of the building were instructed to move to secure locations,” reported AZDPS.
From inside, Arizona State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) documented the mob’s attempts to breach the Senate building.
Despite the mob’s attempts to disrupt the legislative proceedings, the legislature adjourned sine die last Saturday around midnight.
A second protest occurred later on Saturday; AZDPS confirmed that nine arrests were made over the weekend.
Four were arrested for rioting and violent behavior: Hayes Dunn, 34; Kaitlin Auditor, 19; Taro Schmeeckle, 26; and Alex Pinon, 19. One individual, Aiden Starkey, was arrested for vandalism. Four were arrested for failing to produce ID: Kyla Ford, 20; Taylor Calderson, 20; Sage Myers, 19; and Brianna Ford, 19. Fox News reported that charges were dismissed for 8 of the 9 arrested, but no specification was offered as to whose charges remained.
At present, it’s unclear whether Arizona will impose a total abortion ban. State leaders have two separate laws that they may enforce.
Prior to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Arizona banned abortion in all cases except where the mother’s life was at stake. Arizona enacted a version of it in 1901 — over a decade prior to the territory achieving statehood. This is the original law that remains on the books.
In the weeks following Roe, the Arizona Court of Appeals declared Arizona’s abortion ban to be unconstitutional and enjoined it. Though it remained unenforceable for nearly 50 years, A.R.S. 13:3603 wasn’t repealed. In fact, the legislature modified the law in recent years to remove punishments for women who obtained abortions, instead only punishing abortion providers with two to five years’ prison time.
Arizona Senate Republicans declared that this original law was the one that took effect following Friday’s SCOTUS ruling.
The Arizona attorney general’s office didn’t issue a similar declaration concurring with the legislators. Rather, they shared in a statement that they were conducting a legal review of the matter. That’s because another law exists regulating abortion: in March, Governor Doug Ducey restricted abortions after 15 weeks through legislation that closely resembled the Mississippi law at the heart of the recent SCOTUS case.
However, that latest law specified that it doesn’t nullify preceding laws regulating or restricting abortion. As of press time, the attorney general’s office hasn’t announced when it will conclude its review.
Immediately following the SCOTUS ruling, pro-abortion groups sued to prevent restrictions or an outright ban on abortion in Arizona. The ACLU of Arizona, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Arizona Medical Association, and the National Council of Jewish Women Arizona filed an emergency motion in the Arizona District Court on Saturday.