The lone Democratic candidate for Arizona attorney general on Friday said she would not follow the state’s abortion laws if elected.

“I am the only candidate running for Arizona attorney general who is saying, even when Roe falls – and it’s probably going to fall this summer – we will not prosecute women or doctors in the state of Arizona for seeking an abortion or providing an abortion,” said Kris Mayes on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.

According to her campaign biography, Mayes earned her law degree from Arizona State University, but did not go on to practice law. Instead, she pursued a career in journalism until 2002, when she joined Janet Napolitano’s campaign for governor as her press secretary.

Mayes has worked as a “senior sustainability scientist” at Arizona State University – her alma mater – in their School of Global Sustainability where she teaches a course on energy law since 2010.

In 2019, she became a Democrat, the website states.

“Obviously,” Mayes said, “this will end up at the Arizona Supreme Court. I understand that, but that is my interpretation of the law. So no, we will not prosecute women. We will not prosecute doctors. I mean, it’s crazy that we are sitting here in the year 2022, and women are facing a situation where they may have to flee to California or Nevada or New Mexico to seek reproductive care.”

Arizona Constitution

Mayes explained her stance to Broomhead’s listening audience, citing the Arizona Constitution‘s privacy rights.

“The Arizona Constitution has an expressed right to privacy in it. Which I believe means I, as attorney general, and no county attorney, can actually prosecute abortion. That is a clear difference between me and my Republican opponents. They seem perfectly willing to go after prosecuting women and doctors in Arizona for abortions. That’s not acceptable,” said Mayes.

The Arizona state constitution refers to “privacy” twice. First is in Article II’s Declaration of Rights. Section eight reads:

8. Right to privacy
Section 8. No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.

The second reference to privacy in the governing document is Article IV, Part 2, section 22(3), regarding “Juvenile justice; certain chronic and violent juvenile offenders prosecuted as adults; community alternatives for certain juvenile offenders; public proceedings and records.” It reads:

3. All proceedings and matters involving juveniles accused of unlawful conduct shall be open to the public and all records of those proceedings shall be public records.
Exceptions shall be made only for the protection of the privacy of innocent victims of crime, or when a court of competent jurisdiction finds a clear public interest in confidentiality. (emphasis added)

Current Arizona Law

Arizona law currently bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy under State Bill (SB) 1164, sponsored by State Senator Nancy Barto (R-AZ). However, women are not prosecuted for getting an abortion under the bill. Instead, physicians receive the prosecution. Outside of medical emergencies, any medical doctor who performs an abortion can be charged with a class 6 felony and has the possibility of their license being suspended or revoked.

Furthermore, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, Arizona has a law in place that bans the procedure at any point during pregnancy with no exceptions outside of the mother’s life being in danger. Similarly to SB 1164, the prosecution only falls on the physicians who perform the abortion, not the woman who receives it.

The Arizona Sun Times reached out to Mayes but did not receive a response by press time.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Kris Mayes” by Kris Mayes for Arizona. Background Photo “Embryo Week 9-10” by lunar caustic. CC BY 2.0.