The Hail Mary of the Democrats is a candidate for attorney general who will not enforce abortion laws

In Arizona, the US Supreme Court’s decision last Friday to end abortion rights had immediate effect: Within 24 hours, Planned Parenthood had halted all abortion proceedings at its statewide clinics.

That’s because Arizona is one of five states that previously had legislation banning abortion Roe v. calf was decided in 1973. In March 2022, Arizona Republicans passed new legislation banning abortion at 15 weeks — with no exceptions for rape or incest — due to take effect by September.

There is considerable confusion in Arizona as to what precise legal restrictions on abortion will be in place in the future. But the state’s 7 million residents are on track to pass some of the toughest abortion laws in a post-roe America – unless something changes.

Kris Mayes strives to be that something. A former Republican and longtime consumer advocate, Mayes is the presumptive Democratic nominee for attorney general in Arizona, a formerly conservative stronghold that has emerged as one of the country’s key battleground states.

If Mayes wins, she has pledged not to enforce the state’s abortion law — whatever it may be in January 2023. She has vowed that no woman or health professional will be prosecuted for obtaining or performing an abortion, and she would use her powers as an attorney general to rein in county-level prosecutors who might want to do otherwise.

Abortion rights, Mayes told The Daily Beast, have quickly become the No. 1 issue in the attorney general’s race. Talking about abortion since Friday’s ruling — and since a seismic leak of a draft opinion in May announcing it — her message to voters has been simple.

“The way Arizonans can restore and retain their right to bodily autonomy is by electing me attorney general,” Mayes said. “That’s what it came down to.”

Mayes is hardly the only attorney general candidate making that pitch. Arizona is just one of nearly two dozen states that have automatically enacted abortion restrictions or bans when Roe v. calf was overturned by the Supreme Court.

Several of those states are among the nation’s most contested battlegrounds — like Wisconsin, Georgia and Michigan — where Democratic attorney generals and candidates for office have pledged not to enforce their states’ abortion restrictions.

In Wisconsin and Michigan, both of which have abortion bans, incumbent attorneys general Josh Kaul and Dana Nessel have already pledged not to enforce those bans, both now and if they are elected to additional terms in November. In Georgia, Democratic candidate Jen Jordan has committed to doing the same.

The Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate abortion rights nationwide and allow states to decide abortion access added a new and urgent dimension to hundreds of races for governor and state legislatures across the country this fall.

Nationwide, Democrats and Republicans will now fight even harder to win these races so they can create and approve legislation that protects or restricts access to abortion in their states.

But in 2022, attorney general races — usually comparatively dozy affairs — could be more intense and important than ever: attorney generals could play a pivotal role in determining how abortion laws are enforced.

“AGs across the country, particularly in states like Arizona that have banned abortion, will be on the front lines trying to maintain access to reproductive care,” Mayes told The Daily Beast.

The strong 2018 Democratic election year that propelled Democrats to statewide office in Michigan and Wisconsin was the backbone preventing pre-existing abortion bans in those states from going into effect immediately after the fall of Roe.

It wasn’t long before nearby Ohio was demonstrating what would have happened if those elections had gone differently. After the court overturned roeAttorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, immediately filed a motion in Ohio federal court asking to lift an injunction blocking the state’s six-week abortion ban.

That legislation, among the most draconian in the country, had been blocked since it was passed in 2019. At 6 p.m. Friday night, Yost tweeted that the restraining order was lifted and the heartbeat ban was law.

Democrats believe these stark examples of the impact of an attorney general’s authority could inspire pro-choice voters to vote for like-minded candidates in November. Emily Trifone, the associate communications director for the Democratic Attorneys General Association, argued that the majority of voters agree roe Status quo.

“At DAGA, we’re going to fight like hell to make sure voters elect reproductive rights advocates into AG offices and beat Republicans who want us out,” Trifone said.

For years, Republicans have strived to implement and pursue anti-abortion policies, but the decline roe immediately upped the ante on those trains. Democrats believe Republicans will suffer a political setback as their long-held positions finally become the law of the country in many places.

Virtually all GOP nominees for attorney general accepted the Supreme Court decision. Some have harshly attacked their Democratic rivals, particularly those who have yet to win competitive primaries. But many leading Republican candidates aren’t exactly calling abortion the “number one” issue of 2022.

Andrew Gould, a former Arizona Supreme Court Justice who ran in a crowded GOP primary, defended Arizona Republicans’ 15-week abortion law but stressed several times that the main issue in the race was securing the US-Mexico border .

When the Attorney General was pressed about whether he would make prosecuting Arizona abortion law violators a priority, Gould declined to discuss the issue.

“I don’t get to choose what laws I enforce,” Gould told The Daily Beast. “I must enforce these when there is enough evidence to prosecute crimes, I will not favor certain crimes over others.”

In Wisconsin, abortion was outlawed in 1849 except to save the mother’s life. That law hasn’t really been tested in court in modern times, but abortion has been effectively illegal in the state as of Friday.

Eric Toney, a district attorney who plans to run against Kaul, criticized the incumbent Democrat’s pledge “not to use any of our resources to investigate or prosecute anyone for violating a 19th-century abortion ban.”

Toney claimed that Kaul “wants to choose which laws to obey and which to ignore” and “has failed to meet the basic requirement of serving as attorney general.”

Abortion was banned in Michigan in 1931, and that policy would take effect immediately if a court order blocking that ban was overturned. Attorney Matthew DePerno, who made a name for himself when he called for a “forensic review” of the 2020 election results, is the presumptive GOP nominee running against Nessel in November.

In response to a query from The Daily Beast, DePerno claimed Nessel was “not a serious person” and attacked her position on abortion. He didn’t answer twice when asked how aggressively he would enforce Michigan’s existing abortion law. In a statement released on Friday, he said he would “uphold the constitution and laws of our country.”

After the court ruling was released, Nessel confirmed that she “will not prosecute women, girls, or their doctors for using or providing abortion services…nor will my staff seek disciplinary action against medical professionals who safely perform these procedures.”

In Georgia, GOP Gov. Brian Kemp — who is up for re-election this year — signed legislation in 2019 banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. It was struck down by a federal judge in 2021, but with the case of roeGOP Attorney General Chris Carr moved quickly to bring a review of the law before a federal appeals court.

Jordan, a state senator running against Carr, told reporters at a press briefing Monday that she believes Kemp’s law is “unconstitutional.” If elected in November, Jordan said she would decline to defend her against legal challenges — something that’s usually a core, high-profile responsibility of an attorney general.

When asked by The Daily Beast, Jordan also confirmed that if elected, she would not devote any time or resources to enforcing Georgia’s abortion laws if they remain on the books.

“If things stay the way they are now,” she said, “no, we wouldn’t.”

Since Friday, Democratic officials in Washington have drawn criticism, particularly from the party’s progressive wing, for responding to the roe Reversal by telling the public that the solution to the full rollback of abortion rights is to vote in larger numbers. Even a better-than-expected midterm performance almost certainly wouldn’t yield the kind of majorities Democrats would need to codify abortion rights in Congress.

But in the States, Democrats are hoping voters and donors will shift their focus away from Washington — something the party hasn’t always found easy — and focus resources and energy on winning the downballot races over the future of access America could decide to have abortions.

“The state elections are fought. At the end of the day, the Supreme Court sent it home to us, and if people are outraged and if people are afraid… then they have to vote,” Jordan told reporters.

“We have no other way but for people to come out and change people in these offices because, honestly, the people in these offices are why we’re here in the first place.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/democrats-hail-mary-is-state-attorney-general-candidates-who-wont-enforce-abortion-laws?source=articles&via=rss The Hail Mary of the Democrats is a candidate for attorney general who will not enforce abortion laws

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