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Phoenix resolution makes enforcement of state abortion laws the lowest priority

The Phoenix City Council has approved a resolution making enforcement of state abortion laws the lowest priority for police. 

The resolution opposes the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wage by ruling there is no federal constitutional right to abortion, and it opposes Arizona laws restricting access. The council’s action yesterday, supported by Mayor Kate Gallego, also directs the police chief to make enforcement of state violations the lowest priority.

“We have a huge amount of challenges before our city,” she said. “This says that we’re going to focus on issues such as gun crime and not on arresting doctors, nurses, pharmacists.”

Arizona’s most recent court ruling bans abortions after 15 weeks with an exception to save the mother’s life. Violating the law is considered a criminal offense, and doctors are subject to civil penalties. 

During Tuesday's meeting, Gallego said she wants Phoenix to make it easier for women and all of our residents to get good healthcare and support and encourage people to enter healthcare professions.

Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari described recent rulings as “going back in time”.

“Let’s be very honest — if you are somebody who can afford it, despite what’s going on with Roe v. Wade, despite whatever law takes effect in Arizona, you can easily pay to fly to a different state and get an abortion,” she said. “Abortions will not stop. What’s going to happen is that those who cannot afford it — again, largely the population of District 7 and some of the other districts in the city of Phoenix — will suffer. Many will be forced into having pregnancies that they are not ready for whatever reason it might be, and many people will die, and women will die.”

Two council members voted against the resolution: Jim Waring and Sal DiCiccio, who pointed out current state law does not include prosecuting women who obtain abortions.

“If you believe it’s a baby, which I do, if you believe it’s a human being, which I do and a lot of others do, then it needs to have those same protections as anybody else in this room,” he said. “We can’t just go out there and think that it's something else. It’s not a thing, it's not an it.”

The resolution approved by the City Council:

  • Declares support for the rights of pregnant persons to obtain access to full reproductive health care, including abortion care
  • Declares opposition to the decision in Dobbs (Supreme Court ruling which overturned Roe v. Wade)
  • Declares opposition to Arizona laws limiting or denying access to reproductive health care, including abortion care, and limiting the medical emergency exception
  • Calls on the Arizona Legislature to repeal laws limiting or denying access to abortion care and adopt laws to protect full access to reproductive healthcare, including abortions
  • Supports policies establishing law enforcement priorities that consider the circumstances of each case and the need to protect the physical, psychological, and socio-economic well-being of pregnant persons and make investigation or enforcement of reported violations of state abortion law the lowest priority for enforcement
  • Directs the City Manager to take appropriate steps to implement the resolution and to authorize staff to perform the acts necessary for implementation

Phoenix City Council abortion enforcement resolution

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.