GOP-led Arizona Senate to vote on repealing 1864 abortion ban

Arizona’s Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday is set to vote on repealing a Civil War-era abortion ban, one week after a similar motion passed the GOP-controlled state House

After two failed attempts, three Republicans in the state House on joined all the Democrats in successfully voting to repeal the law, sending it to the Senate. 

The 14 Democrats in the state Senate are hoping to pick up at least two Republicans to send the measure to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, who has said she will sign it. If the repeal is signed, a 2022 law that capped abortions at 15 weeks would eventually go into effect. 

Last month, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the 1864 law banning nearly all abortions could go into effect, superseding a 15-week abortion ban put in place in 2022 by state Republicans. The March 2022 law was signed three months before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal right to an abortion with its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision.

The state Supreme Court found that the 2022 Arizona ban “is predicated entirely on the existence of a federal constitutional right to an abortion” because the 2022 ban didn’t “independently authorize abortion.” As a result, the court said, there was no provision in either state or federal law that addressed the operation of the 1864 ban, so that ban “is now enforceable,” the court ruled.

Even if the Senate passes the repeal on Wednesday, it would not go into effect until 90 days after the legislature adjourns. The 1864 law is set to go into effect on June 27. 

Abortion Arizona
File: The Arizona Senate building at the state Capitol, April 11, 2024, Phoenix. Ross D. Franklin / AP

Former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who signed the 2022 law, was among the critics of the court’s decision, as well as U.S. GOP Senate candidate Kari Lake. Former President Donald Trump said after the ruling, “I’m sure that the governor and everybody else are going to bring it back into reason and that’ll be taken care of, I think very quickly.”

Democrats, who nationally have been running on restoring abortion rights, have focused on Arizona, a swing state that flipped for President Biden in 2020, as a key battleground. In a speech in Tucson last month, Vice President Kamala Harris tied the 1864 abortion ban — and similar restrictive measures in other states — to Trump, calling him “the architect of this health care crisis.”

Shawna Mizelle contributed to this report. 

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