HomeLearning CenterArizona Lawmakers Repeal 1864 Abortion Ban

Arizona Lawmakers Repeal 1864 Abortion Ban

Originally published by Jack Healy and Elizabeth Dias for the New York Times

Arizona lawmakers voted on Wednesday to repeal an abortion ban that first became law when Abraham Lincoln was president and a half-century before women won the right to vote.

A bill to repeal the law passed, 16-14, in the Republican-controlled State Senate with the support of every Democratic senator and two Republicans who broke with anti-abortion conservatives who dominate their party. It now goes to Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, who is expected to sign it on Thursday.

The vote was the culmination of a fevered effort to repeal the law that has made abortion a central focus of Arizona’s politics.

“We are standing in a moment of Arizona history,” said State Senator Anna Hernandez, a Democrat who called the repeal measure up to a vote on Wednesday.

The issue has galvanized Democratic voters and energized a campaign to put an abortion-rights ballot measure before Arizona voters in November. On the right, it created a rift between anti-abortion activists who want to keep the law in place and Republican politicians who worry about the political backlash that could be prompted by support of a near-total abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest.

The 1864 law had gathered dust on the books for decades. But it exploded into an election-year flashpoint three weeks ago when a 4-2 decision by the State Supreme Court, whose justices are all Republican-appointed, said the ban could now be enforced because of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

After the repeal is finalized, abortions in Arizona will be governed by a 2022 law that prohibits the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and makes no exception for rape or incest.

But the repeal will not take effect until 90 days after the Legislature adjourns for the summer, meaning that the 1864 ban could still end up temporarily derailing abortion access in Arizona if a court allows it to go into effect. Arizona’s Democratic attorney general and Planned Parenthood Arizona have gone to court to keep the law from being implemented.

Two Republican state senators, T.J. Shope and Shawnna Bolick, joined with Democrats on Wednesday to force that repeal bill to a vote over furious attempts by far-right Republicans to block it.

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