By BOB CHRISTIE (Associated Press)

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona’s attorney general has agreed to hold off on a near-total abortion ban until at least next year. On Thursday, Planned Parenthood of Arizona recognized the move as an authorization to resume abortion services statewide.

The state’s largest abortion provider has reopened services only at its Tucson clinics after an appeals court blocked enforcement of the old law on Oct. 7. A lower court upheld the law on September 23, ending all abortions statewide.

Planned Parenthood said Thursday that services will resume statewide, including clinics in metro Phoenix and in Flagstaff.

“While we celebrate today, we cannot ignore the fact that we are still on a long and uncertain road to restoring the fundamental right to abortion in Arizona and making this important health care truly accessible and fair for all people.” said Brittany Fontaine, who heads Planned Parenthood Arizona, said at a press conference. “Although abortion is now legal in Arizona and we have reopened abortions statewide, we know this may be temporary.”

The only exception to the law is when the mother’s life is in danger. The pre-state abortion law was blocked after Roe was decided in 1973, but Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked a court in Tucson to allow it to take effect this summer. The 1864 law provided for imprisonment from two to five years.

After a judge in Tucson agreed with Brnovich, an appeals court temporarily dismissed her case and set a timetable for lawyers for Planned Parenthood and the Arizona attorney general’s office to file their legal briefs in the appeal. These documents must be received by November 17.

Meanwhile, a Phoenix doctor who runs an abortion clinic and the Arizona Medical Association filed a separate lawsuit seeking to block the territorial-era law, arguing that laws passed by the Legislature after Roe v. Wade in 1973 should have priority and abortions should be allowed before 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The lawsuit, filed by a Phoenix abortion doctor and the Arizona Medical Association, echoed many of the arguments made by Planned Parenthood in their failed attempt last month to convince a Tucson judge to uphold a 50-year-old ban on the old law. The judge said she had no procedural right to try to reconcile the 50-year-old law with the old law.

Brnovich sought to delay that lawsuit until an appeals court ruled on the Planned Parenthood case. In a settlement with the abortion doctor and the medical association, he agreed not to enforce the old law until at least 45 days after the final decision in the original case.

Any decision by the appeals court is sure to be appealed to the state Supreme Court, so any final decision could come in 2023.

A law passed by the Legislature this year limits abortions to 15 weeks of pregnancy, well before the 24 weeks normally allowed under the Roe decision, which was overturned by the US Supreme Court in June.

Arizona women seeking abortions face tougher competing state laws after High Court ruling. There is also a “personhood” law that raised concerns among providers that they could face charges under the law before a federal judge blocked it in July.

Abortion providers shut down all services in the state after Roe was struck down, reopened in mid-July after the ID law was blocked, and shut down again when a Tucson judge allowed the 1864 law to go into effect.