Arizona Senate votes to overturn near-total abortion ban from 1864

Arizona lawmakers made a significant move on Wednesday to prevent the enforcement of a Civil War-era abortion ban. This comes after state senators repealed the measure that the Arizona Supreme Court had recently ruled as valid.

The majority of the vote followed party lines, but there were two Republican state senators, Sen. Shawnna Bolick and Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope, who broke away from the GOP majority to support the repeal of the near-total ban.

The nineteenth-century law not only prohibits abortions in all circumstances except for life-threatening medical emergencies but also imposes prison sentences for individuals who assist in an abortion.

The repeal of the bill will now be sent to Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, for her signature. In an earlier statement to reporters, Hobbs expressed her intention to sign it as soon as it reaches her desk.

Before the final vote on the repeal, Republican state Sen. Jake Hoffman attempted to introduce a motion that would require law enforcement to be notified for certain abortions. However, his motion was rejected by Senate President Warren Petersen, who deemed it to be out of order.

During the voting process, Bolick took the opportunity to deliver a heartfelt speech that lasted for about 20 minutes. In her speech, she shared personal anecdotes about her own pregnancies and recounted other pregnancy stories. Additionally, Bolick addressed her appointment to the Senate in 2023 and offered critiques of Hobbs.

Several other Republicans took the opportunity to express their disapproval of the repeal during lengthy floor speeches. Senator Anthony Kern, a Republican from Glendale, specifically criticized his fellow Republicans who voted in favor of the repeal while still claiming to be against abortion. He described their stance as the epitome of delusion.

Over 100 demonstrators and individuals with differing views on abortion gathered outside the Senate building in anticipation of the vote. Holding signs, they passionately expressed their opinions. Inside the Senate gallery, dozens of people closely followed the proceedings. Tensions ran high as lawmakers engaged in spirited debates, occasionally exchanging sharp remarks.

The repeal of the ban was set in motion by Arizona’s House of Representatives on April 24th, after a period of political tension triggered by a state Supreme Court decision that upheld the ban as the binding law.

Once Hobbs signs it, the repeal will take effect 90 days after the conclusion of the legislative session for the year.

State Attorney General Kris Mayes has previously stated that she will not enforce the Civil War-era ban on abortion or any other anti-abortion law. This stance is supported by an executive action by Hobbs, which grants authority over abortion-related prosecutions to the Attorney General’s Office.

The decision made by the court prompted anti-abortion advocates to attempt to remove a stay on the law in Arizona, which had been in effect since 1973. In April, the state’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the ban established in 1864. This ruling led to Democrats and many Republicans in swing districts supporting the repeal of the ban.

The Arizona Senate has made a significant decision by voting to repeal a near-total abortion ban that was put into place in 1864. This historic move demonstrates a shift in attitudes towards reproductive rights and signifies progress in women’s healthcare. The repeal of this outdated legislation marks a crucial step forward in ensuring that women have access to safe and legal abortions when necessary. This decision by the Arizona Senate is a testament to the importance of protecting a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body.

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MBS Staff
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