Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel has repeatedly issued statements that she would "not prosecute women for their health care choices." She adopted the stance after she was criticized last year for implying that she would prosecute women who receive abortions if Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that protects abortion access, ever got overturned.
Now, after Governor Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1457, a controversial anti-abortion bill that threatens abortion doctors with a Class 6 felony and jail time if they perform abortions due to "genetic abnormalities," Adel won't say if she would prosecute such cases.
In response to New Times' questions about whether the Maricopa County Attorney's Office would pursue criminal charges against abortion doctors based on the new law, Jennifer Liewer, a spokesperson for the agency, declined to comment.
"We will not be providing comment," she wrote in an email.
When asked if Adel's decision not to take a firm position against prosecuting abortion doctors is hypocritical due to her past assurances that she won't prosecute women "for their healthcare choices," Liewer repeated the longstanding talking point.
"The County Attorney's position remains the same that she will not prosecute a woman for her healthcare choices," she wrote.
Analise Ortiz, a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, which opposed Senate Bill 1457, slammed Adel's position as "hypocritical" and "concerning."
"Her office has so much discretion to choose which crimes they’re going to prosecute and which ones they are not," she said. "With all of the power that Allister Adel has, now is the time to come out and reassure the residents of Maricopa County that their access to reproductive healthcare will not be hindered by her office."
Pro-choice advocates and members of the medical community have fiercely criticized Senate Bill 1457 as extreme, unconstitutional, and dangerous to me. Critics also argue that the bill was merely a ploy by Republican lawmakers to attract lawsuits and get a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in the hope that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. The bill doesn't go into effect until 90 days after this year's legislative session ends; observers expect that lawsuits will be filed at some point.