Arizona Senate votes to overturn nearly-complete 1864 abortion ban

Arizona lawmakers made a significant move on Wednesday to prevent the enforcement of a Civil War-era abortion ban. State senators repealed the measure, which the Arizona Supreme Court recently ruled could be implemented.

The near-total ban was repealed in a largely partisan vote, with two Republican state senators, Sen. Shawnna Bolick and Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope, breaking ranks with the GOP majority.

The nineteenth-century law not only bans abortions in all situations except life-threatening medical emergencies but also imposes prison terms for doctors and others who assist in an abortion.

The repeal is set to go to Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, for her signature. Earlier in the day, Hobbs assured reporters that she would sign it “as soon as it reaches my desk.”

During the final vote on the repeal, Republican state Senator Jake Hoffman attempted to propose a motion that would necessitate informing law enforcement in certain abortion cases. However, Senate President Warren Petersen dismissed his motion, stating that it was not in accordance with the established order.

During the voting, Bolick took the opportunity to deliver a heartfelt speech that lasted for more than 20 minutes. In her speech, she shared personal anecdotes about her own pregnancies as well as stories of other women’s pregnancies. She also touched upon her appointment to the Senate in 2023 and expressed her criticisms of Hobbs.

Several Republicans took the floor to express their disapproval of the repeal, delivering lengthy speeches. Senator Anthony Kern, a Republican from Glendale, strongly criticized his fellow Republicans who voted for the repeal while still claiming to be against abortion, describing their stance as the embodiment of delusion.

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More than 100 demonstrators and individuals with varying opinions on abortion gathered outside the Senate building before the vote, expressing their views through signs. The Senate gallery was also filled with dozens of people, leading to heated exchanges between lawmakers.

The repeal of Arizona’s ban was set in motion by the House of Representatives on April 24, after weeks of political turmoil caused by a state Supreme Court ruling that upheld the ban as the law of the land.

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

State Attorney General Kris Mayes has already made it clear that she will not enforce the outdated ban on abortion from the Civil War era, as well as any other anti-abortion laws. Mayes is supported by an executive action taken by Hobbs which grants the Attorney General’s Office the authority to handle prosecutions related to abortion.

In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade turned the law into a critical concern for abortion rights.

The decision of the court prompted those who oppose abortion to make efforts to remove the stay on the law in Arizona, which had been in effect for nearly five decades. In April, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the ban that was established in 1864. This ruling caused Democrats and even many Republicans in swing districts to rally behind the push for a repeal.

The Arizona Senate has taken a significant step by voting to repeal a near-total abortion ban that was originally put in place in 1864. This historic decision marks a turning point in the state’s stance on reproductive rights. The Senate’s vote reflects a growing recognition of the importance of women’s autonomy and the need to prioritize their health and well-being. The repeal of this outdated ban is a positive move towards ensuring that individuals have the right to make decisions about their own bodies.

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