Arizona Senate leaders slammed pro-abortion Gov. Katie Hobbs on Monday for her “reckless abuse of power” after she stripped local prosecutors’ authority to investigate abortion cases in an executive order last week.
In a letter to the governor, leaders of the Senate nominations committee said they will not approve any more of Hobbs’ nominees until she agrees to meet to discuss their “tremendous concerns” with her actions.
“Katie Hobbs’ reckless abuse of power and willful disregard for the separation of powers established by the Arizona Constitution sets a dangerous precedent that will not be tolerated by the Republican Majority within the Legislature,” said state Sen. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, the chair of the committee.
On Thursday, Hobbs signed an executive order that revokes local prosecutors’ ability to prosecute abortion violations and puts the power solely in the hands of pro-abortion Attorney General Kris Mayes, according to CBS 5 News.
The Democrat governor argued that the Attorney General’s Office should be the only authority to make decisions about enforcing abortion restrictions. That way “differences in interpretation or application of the law by different county attorneys do not chill, deter or restrict access to lawful abortion care,” Hobbs said.
Right now, Arizona law prohibits most abortions after 15 weeks. The state also has a pre-Roe v. Wade abortion ban that would protect all unborn babies, but it currently is blocked. The state Supreme Court is considering the case.
But if the attorney general is the only person tasked with enforcing the law and she refuses, abortionists could continue to kill unborn babies in abortions without fear.
State pro-life leaders and Republican lawmakers quickly called out Hobbs, saying her actions undermine democracy and usurp power for her personal political causes.
Hoffman said Republican leaders would like to focus on “confirming directors and creating good policy for the people of Arizona,” but are forced to address “the fallout of Hobbs’ unconstitutional maneuver, as well as the likelihood of future overreaches of her authority.”
The nominations committee is made up of three Republicans and two Democrats. Republicans control both houses of the state legislature.
In their letter, Hoffman and Republican Sens. Sine Kerr, R-Buckeye, and T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, said they decided to postpone all nominations until they meet with the governor to discuss her pro-abortion executive order.
According to AZ Central, the committee canceled its plans Tuesday to consider a nominee to lead a state agency that oversees insurance and financial institutions and professionals.
In response, Hobbs spokesperson Christian Slater refused to say if the governor will meet with the lawmakers.
“Sen. Hoffman has shown a reckless disrespect for small businesses, veterans, children and everyday Arizonans by failing to fairly consider nominees and holding state agencies hostage to his partisan political games,” Slater said, according to AZ Central.
But Republican lawmakers said Hobbs and Attorney General Mayes are the ones playing political games.
“The conspiring of your office and the Attorney General to circumvent the laws of this state and this country, two executive offices charged with enforcing statute as it stands, give the Legislature tremendous concern about your office’s future attempts to act outside its vested authorities,” the committee leaders told Hobbs in their letter.
Arizona pro-life leaders expressed alarm about Hobbs’ actions, too.
“In her zeal for abortion, Gov. Hobbs has exceeded her authority as governor,” Cathi Herrod, Esq., president of the Center for Arizona Policy, responded last week. “The law does not allow her to strip county attorneys of their clear enforcement authority as granted in various Arizona laws.”
Herrod urged the governor to work with people on both sides of the debate to serve pregnant women in need so they don’t feel like aborting their unborn babies is their only option.
Hobbs’ executive order attempts to expand abortion in a number of ways. She created a new Governor’s Advisory Council on Protecting Reproductive Freedom to make recommendations on how to expand access to “sexual and reproductive health care,” including elective abortions.
The order also limits state agencies’ ability to help other states with their investigations of abortion violations.
Arizona has an 1864 state law that prohibits killing of unborn babies in abortions except if the mother’s life is at risk. If enforced, the law has the potential to save as many as 36 babies from abortion every day.
Last summer, the abortion ban went into effect temporarily after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, but the Planned Parenthood abortion chain sued and Arizona courts blocked the legislation in October.
Now, state lawmakers, pro-life advocates, doctors and leaders of other states are urging the Arizona Supreme Court to reverse the ruling.