Arizona House Overturns 1864 Abortion Ban

( – The battle over abortion in Arizona may be coming to a close soon, as the state’s House voted on April 24th to overturn the strict and controversial near-total abortion ban on the books since 1864.

The Civil War-era law, enacted before Arizona became a state, was reactivated by recent court decisions. First, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade in 2022. That decision barred states from banning abortion in the first trimester, among other rules. When Roe was overturned, all abortion regulations went back to the states.

Arizona has two conflicting laws: the 1864 abortion ban, and a more current statute that bans the procedure after 15 weeks. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on April 9th that the 19th-century ban could be enforced, putting the laws in conflict.

The state’s 29 Democratic Representatives unanimously voted to overturn the ban, and three Republican lawmakers joined them. It seems likely the state Senate will also vote in May for the bill overturning the ban, and Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs is almost certain to sign it into law.

Athena Salman, director of Arizona Campaigns for Reproductive Freedom For All, said the move was “a long time coming.”

Predictably, the issue is mostly talked about and legislated on partisan grounds. While Democrats are pleased with what they see as ensuring women’s rights to make reproductive choices, most Republicans see abortion as a wicked act.

Republican state Rep. Rachel Jones said she was “disgusted” with the House vote, calling “life”—meaning pro-life and anti-abortion— “one of the tenets of our Republican platform.”

Not all Republicans are in lockstep over the issue, however. As rhetoric on both sides has heated up since the SCOTUS decision overturning Roe, some conservatives fear losing elections if they are seen as too radical in restricting women’s choice to abort. For example, former President and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump recently stated he did not believe in a total nationwide abortion ban. Trump would not say at what date he thought abortion would be limited but instead stated that the decision should be left to the states.

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