Apr 10, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Arizona's abortion ban upends 2024 election

A woman stands at a lectern covered in microphones surrounded by people holding signs.

State Sen. Eva Burch (D-Mesa) speaks Tuesday at a Capitol press conference. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

Arizona Democrats are looking to the state Supreme Court's ruling Tuesday that bans most abortions to carry them to victory in November.

The big picture: A measure to enshrine abortion rights in the Arizona Constitution is likely to be on the ballot. Democrats believe Tuesday's bombshell decision will help them not only pass the abortion initiative, but also take control of the legislature and win races up and down the ballot.

Why it matters: Republicans have one-vote majorities in both legislative chambers, which they've mostly controlled since 1967.

  • President Biden in 2020 became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Arizona in 24 years.

State of play: A handful of Republican state lawmakers said Tuesday they would push for a swift repeal of the near-total ban from 1864 and reinstate a 15-week version enacted in 2022.

  • Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) and House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Glendale) said in a joint statement they'll review the ruling, talk with their colleagues and listen to constituents "to determine the best course of action."

Yes, but: Toma tells Axios that he wouldn't support a repeal and wouldn't permit a vote on it.

  • He is in a competitive primary for the heavily Republican 8th Congressional District.

Zoom in: State Sen. Eva Burch (D-Mesa), who made headlines last month for sharing her abortion story, said Democratic candidates need votes from people who support abortion rights but don't usually elect Democrats.

  • "We need you to understand that this is the issue of our times," she said at a press conference at the Capitol.
  • Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes recalled that she won her 2022 election by 280 votes, which she attributed to anger over the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
  • "If past is prologue, this is going to have a deep and lasting impact on politics in Arizona. (Republicans) bit off more than they can chew," Mayes said.

Between the lines: Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs and lawmakers were quick to note that this ban could be a precursor to contraception and IVF bans — other issues expected to fire up voters.

  • "Until we have our rights to abortion health care in the constitution, we don't have the right," Senate minority leader Mitzi Epstein (D-Tempe) told Axios.

The other side: In a sign of the issue's resonance, some Republicans staring down tough elections were quick to denounce the near-total ban.

Reality check: Their Democratic opponents were quick to remind voters that these politicians supported the reversal of Roe, which opened the door for abortion bans.

What we're watching: Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Tucson on Friday for a "reproductive freedom"-related event, which was in the works before the ruling, Politico reported.

  • "This ruling is a result of the extreme agenda of Republican elected officials who are committed to ripping away women's freedom," President Biden said in a statement.
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