Maricopa Prosecutor Candidate Angry over Abortion Ruling, Will Play Key Role in Arizona If Elected

Julie Gunnigle

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Phoenix, Arizona – Don’t ask Julie Gunnigle about how last week’s abortion ruling impacts her race.

“I’m devasted, but also not surprised, we saw this coming,” she told the Vanguard on Monday in a phone interview.  But added, “Honestly, I am pissed at people who are asking that question, because I do not care how this impacts my race. That decision is literally going to kill people if it hasn’t already in the last three days.”

She added, “We should all be angry about living under an 1864 ban that will kill pregnant people.”

But later Gunnigle did acknowledge that ultimately there would have to be a political solution to this problem and that required winning elections to change public policy.

She noted that, while the legislature could repeal it, “I am not optimistic as to that.”  She said, “We could elect people who will choose to use their discretion and not enforce it.  That seems to be the quickest and easiest route to save lives.”

She believes they can run an initiative or referendum to overturn the law, “but at this point in time, it looks like that would be 2024 at best.”

Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson is allowing a ban on nearly all abortions in the state, granting a request from the state’s Republican attorney general to lift a court injunction that had barred enforcement of Arizona law that predates statehood.

“The court finds that because the legal basis for the judgment entered in 1973 has now been overruled, it must vacate the judgment in its entirety,” Johnson wrote in the ruling released Friday.

“While there may be legal questions the parties seek to resolve regarding Arizona statutes on abortion, those questions are not for this Court to decide here,” Johnson wrote in the decision.

Gunnigle warned the Vanguard this was coming way back in 2020 when she initially ran for Maricopa County Attorney, losing narrowly in the November General Election that year, but she got a second chance to run when Allister Adel abruptly resigned in March—Adel, who suffered from alcohol and addiction, would end up passing away at the end of April.

In 2020, Gunnigle noted that Arizona had a draconian abortion law on the book that could take effect should Roe be struck down, which it was earlier this year in the Dodd decision.

Gunnigle told the Vanguard, “When I’m elected, my offices does the right thing, the just thing, that not now, not ever.  We don’t use police and prosecutors to invade people’s bodies and bedrooms.  We use our discretion to not enforce that law.”

With the court ruling, Gunnigle believes this is now the most restrictive law in the country.

“My understanding is yes,” she said.  “For a couple of reasons.”

She said, “One is that it is unclear whether or not there is immunity for the patient who self-administers an abortion versus just being a provider-side ban.”

She continued, “The word abortion under Arizona law is defined specifically to exclude non-viable pregnancies and pregnancies that endanger the health of the mother in an emergent way.  (But) the problem with that language is it relies on the good faith determination of healthcare providers and our healthcare providers are literally blowing up my phone and others. Um, wondering, wondering what that means. Especially in Arizona where we’ve heard absolutely outlandish claims about things like ectopic pregnancies being able to be reimplanted in the uterus.”

She also noted that politicians have said that a rape victim has a duty to bear that child that’s conceived out of rape and incest.

She said, “The real question is how close to death does a person need to get before a lifesaving abortion can be administered?”

Gunnigle draws a sharp line between how she and her opponent come down on that issue.  Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell has said “she will enforce the law.”

She was asked by ABC15 point blank if she would enforce the 1864 abortion law, and she said yes.

Gunnigle criticized that Mitchell “has a terrible record right now of prosecuting sexual assault. Right now, in the city of Phoenix, our sexual assault clearance rate is lower than 9%.”

Given that small number of victims of sexual assault come forward at all, “in only 9 percent of those cases is there ever an arrest and under Rachel Mitchell’s tenure, only 2 percent of the cases is there ever a conviction.”

Gunnigle said, “So it’s very unclear how you obtain this very special rape or incest permission slip from the county attorney to go get an abortion.”

When pressed on the question of what this means, she said, “It’s not that I don’t want to talk politics.  It’s that I am just so reticent to rejoice in this moment that it means the possibility of Arizona down ballot race is going blue.”

She noted that a NY Times reporter was following her on Sunday and the first door she knocked on was a middle aged, independent, conservative identifying while male “who said that he is absolutely voting for me because he remembers what it was like back in 1970, driving an acquaintance to get an abortion in another state because his state outlawed abortion.”

Gunnigle added, “This is going to drive voters to the polls, but only for those I think who are authentically conveying that message and what’s at stake.”

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts


  1. Walter Shwe

    I fully support Julie Gunnigle for Maricopa County District Attorney for 2 reasons. She would use her prosecutorial discretion not to pursue abortion allegations because the law should not tell women what to do with their bodies. Furthermore, her incompetent opponent has an atrocious record when in comes to winning convictions against the perpetrators of sexual assault.

  2. Keith Olson

    That decision is literally going to kill people if it hasn’t already in the last three days.

    Well there are people who see that the other way for obvious reasons if one considers a viable fetus as as future “people”.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for