Ariz. Repeals 1864 Abortion Law w/ GOP Assist, but Dems Will Campaign on It Anyway

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(Headline USA) The Arizona Legislature approved a repeal of a long-dormant ban on nearly all abortions Wednesday, sending the bill to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, who was expected to sign it.

Two Republicans joined with Democrats in the Senate on the 16-14 vote in favor of repealing the Civil War-era law that the state’s highest court recently allowed to take effect. It narrowly cleared the House last week.

The 1864 measure—which predates Arizona’s statehood—provides no exceptions for rape or incest, and it only carves out exceptions for cases in which the pregnant mother’s life is at stake. Anyone who assists in an abortion can be sentenced to two to five years in prison.

Voting on the bill stretched more than an hour on Wednesday, amid impassioned speeches.

“This is about the Civil War-era ban that criminalizes doctors and makes virtually all abortions illegal,” said Democratic state Sen. Eva Burch. “We’re here to repeal a bad law. I don’t want us honoring laws about women written during a time when women were forbidden from voting because their voices were considered inferior to men.”

Burch made public on the Senate floor in March that she had a non-viable pregnancy and was going to have an abortion. She warned supporters of reproductive rights on Wednesday that they could not yet rest easy, even after the repeal is signed.

“They are going to use every tool in the toolbox to try to do whatever it is they can to interfere with the repeal of this ban,” she said.

There were numerous disruptions from people in Senate gallery, as Republican state Sen. Shawnna Bolick explained her vote in favor of repeal, joining with Democrats.

Bolick appeared to argue that a repeal would guard against extreme ballot initiatives from abortion advocates. She is married to state Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick, who voted to allow a 1864 law on abortion to be enforced again.

“I want to protect our state constitution from unlimited abortions,” the senator said. “I am here to protect more babies. I vote aye.”

Hobbs said in a statement that she looked forward to quickly signing the repeal, with a ceremony scheduled for Thursday.

“Arizona women should not have to live in a state where politicians make decisions that should be between a woman and her doctor,” Hobbs said. “While this repeal is essential for protecting women’s lives, it is just the beginning of our fight to protect reproductive healthcare.”

The law may still be active until the fall—and consequently, Democrats fully intend to wage a scaremongering campaign designed to dupe low-information female voters into thinking that their baby-killing freedoms remain in jeopardy.

“Republicans know that they are on the wrong side of this issue,” Arizona Democratic Party Chair Yolanda Bejarano told the Associated Press. “They are seeing the writing on the wall, and we are going to make sure that we vote out every extremist Republican in Arizona.”

Part of the effort by Democrats involves leveraging former President Donald Trump’s recent stance opposing federal pro-life legislation while voicing support for individual states’ ability to self-determine their abortion laws.

Leftists simultaneously claim that Republicans are losing the debate over the issue due to their intra-party disagreements, while also distorting Trump’s position to suggest he personally threatens to undermine abortion access if re-elected in November.

“Across the country, women are living in a state of chaos and cruelty caused by Donald Trump,” Vice President Kamala Harris claimed in a statement on Wednesday.

“While Arizona Democrats have worked to clean up the devastating mess created by Trump and his extremist allies, the state’s existing ban, with no exception for rape or incest, remains in effect,” she added deceptively.

Trump, for his part, made the decision to articulate his position after long hedging on the issue after coming to view it as a growing political liability.

“A lot of bad things will happen beyond the abortion issue if you don’t win elections, with your taxes and everything else,” he told a rally Wednesday in Michigan.

Indeed, despite having little else to run on, Democrats have seen some success with using abortion to appeal to single-issue voters while also deploying massive ballot-harvesting operations and other suspicious activities that helped them outperform in the past several election cycles.

However, conservative critics fear that his decision to leave the issue at the state level will play right into the Left’s hands as they scramble to get abortion referendums on the ballot that will mobilize voters who otherwise have little enthusiasm for reelecting President Joe Biden.

In Arizona, abortion supporters are collecting signatures for a ballot measure allowing abortions until a fetus could survive outside the womb, typically around 24 weeks, with exceptions—to save the parent’s life, or to protect her physical or mental health—that would grimly allow a woman to murder a fully formed infant if she claimed the idea of motherhood was causing her emotional anguish.

Republican lawmakers, in turn, are considering putting one or more competing abortion proposals on the November ballot.

Arizona’s law took effect after a ruling from the state Supreme Court lifted a prior injunction at the behest of former pro-life state Attorney General Mark Brnovich in the aftermath of the federal overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The court ruling, which came just days after Trump outlined his position, seemed almost a direct response in defiance of the presumptive GOP nominee—a rare rift between Trump and his loyal conservative base.

While many celebrated the decision, the revival of the 19th-century law immediately put Republicans on the defensive in Arizona, one of a handful of closely watched battleground states that will decide the next president.

If the repeal bill is signed, a 2022 statute banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy will become Arizona’s prevailing abortion law.

Still, the repeal wouldn’t take effect until 90 days after the end of the legislative session, likely in June or July.

Within hours after the vote, efforts were already under way to prevent the older abortion ban from taking effect before the repeal becomes a reality.

“Without an emergency clause that would allow the repeal to take effect immediately, the people of Arizona may still be subjected to the near-total abortion ban for a period of time this year,” Arizona state Attorney General Kris Mayes said. “Rest assured, my office is exploring every option available to prevent this outrageous 160-year-old law from ever taking effect.”

Planned Parenthood Arizona announced it filed a motion Wednesday afternoon asking the state Supreme Court to prevent a pause in abortion until the Legislature’s repeal takes effect.

Planned Parenthood officials have also said they will reinforce networks that help patients travel out of state to access abortion in places like New Mexico and California.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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