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Arizona Senate repeals 1864 abortion ban, governor seen signing quickly

Arizona Senate repeals 1864 abortion ban, governor seen signing quickly
A woman rallies for abortion rights at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, 11 April 2024. On 09 April 2024 the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that an 1864 abortion law, which pre-dates Arizona’s statehood and provides no exceptions for rape or incest and allows abortions after 6 weeks only if the mother’s life is in jeopardy, was enforceable. The opinion by Arizona’s highest court suggested doctors can be prosecuted under the 1864 law, with the risk of 2-5 years jail time. The decision threw out an earlier lower-court decision that concluded doctors could not be charged for performing abortions in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. Fourteen other US states have banned nearly all abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in 2022 overturning the constitutional right to abortion. EPA-EFE/ALLISON DINNER

May 1 (Reuters) - The Arizona Senate voted on Wednesday to repeal the state's 1864 ban on abortion, which could otherwise have taken effect within weeks.

By Brad Brooks

The repeal was passed by the Senate in a 16-14 vote and is expected to be quickly signed by Governor Katie Hobbs, a Democrat. Two Republican senators crossed party lines to vote in favor of repealing the ban.

The Arizona House last week passed the measure after a handful of Republicans broke party ranks and voted with Democrats to send it to the Senate.

“We’re here to repeal a bad law,” Senator Eva Burch, a Democrat, said from the floor. “I don’t want us honoring laws about women, written during a time when women were forbidden from voting.”

Republican Senator Wendy Rogers said in casting her vote to maintain the 1864 ban that repealing the law went against the conservative values of Arizona.

“Life starts at conception. They got it right in 1864. We need to continue to get it right in 2024,” Rogers said.

The fight over the Civil War-era abortion ban in Arizona, a state sharply split between Democrats and Republicans, is the latest flashpoint on women’s reproductive rights in the U.S. In 2022 the U.S. Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion, leaving it up to states to decide the issue. Conservative-led states quickly invoked strict bans on abortion within their borders.

Democrats across the U.S., confident that public opinion is on their side in supporting abortion rights, have sought to elevate the issue ahead of November’s presidential election. Arizona is a key battleground state.

Heather Williams, president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee that works to elect Democrats to state legislatures, said her party would capitalize on the “extreme nature of MAGA Arizona Republicans” who voted to maintain the 1864 law as Democrats try to flip the state’s House and Senate in November’s elections.

Rogers, the Republican state senator, acknowledged the political risks.

“Some colleagues would say it’s politically pragmatic for us to find middle ground,” she said. “We might lose the legislature, we might lose the presidential election. But it’s more important to do what’s right.”

The 1864 law was revived by a state Supreme Court ruling on April 9, and unless the legislature intervened, it could have taken effect within 60 days of that ruling, state Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, has said.

Restrictions on abortion are still in place in Arizona. In 2022, the state legislature passed a law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Arizona Democrats have said they will continue attempting to place a ballot measure before voters in November that would restore abortion rights.

(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Longmont, Colorado; Editing by Donna Bryson, Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    I actually despair for the whole Free World when I look at America. To think there are so many of them who believe in this sort of rubbish, and are prepared to drag their country back into the Middle Ages because of a book of fairy tales – to say nothing of voting a demented, corrupt slimeball back into the Oval Office – shows that evolution hasn’t worked and it might in fact be best for them to get their Rupture, sorry, Rapture, and we close down the curtain on the human race. With so many of them around, plus morons like RatPutin and Xi just dying to start World War 3,whats the point of it all?

  • Skinyela Skinyela says:

    If you believe that life begins at conception and abortion is a sin, why are you using legislation to force the ‘sinners’ not to sin?

    Let them(sinners) be and they’ll answer to their God in the ‘afterlife’

  • Rozanne Tonkin says:

    Perhaps if men were the bearers of children, able to be impregnated by choice, by mistake or by force, the laws regarding abortion would be very different? Just a thought.

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