Apr 11, 2024 - Politics

Some Arizona Republicans are backtracking on their abortion stances

Protesters holding pro-abortion rights signs.

Abortion rights protesters Tucson in 2022. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images

Some Arizona Republicans — facing a new political reality — are claiming they did not realize a bill they supported in 2022 would open the door for a near-total abortion ban.

Catch up quick: The 2022 law, which passed prior to the reversal of Roe, made it illegal to perform an abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

  • Yes, but: The bill language also explicitly stated that it did not repeal the Arizona statute — adopted in 1864 — that prohibits all abortions except when needed to save the life of the mother.

In its Tuesday opinion, the court said this language proves the Legislature's "unequivocal intent" to keep the 1864 law on the books.

  • The bill's primary sponsor, Nancy Barto, said following the court's decision Tuesday that the caveat was intentional, to allow the stricter law to take effect if Roe was reversed.

Zoom in: Former Gov. Doug Ducey posted on X he signed the 15-week bill because it was "thoughtful conservative policy" and said he was disappointed by the state Supreme Court's decision.

  • State Sens. T.J. Shope (R-Coolidge) and Shawnna Bolick (R- Phoenix), who both supported the 2022 bill, called for the repeal of the 1864 law on Tuesday.
  • Shope posted that the court's decision "ignored our legislative intent" and yesterday told KJZZ he didn't "really actually [believe] that Roe v. Wade was going to be overturned."
  • State Rep. Matt Gress (R-Phoenix) — who worked for Ducey when he signed the bill — in a video said the court's decision "cannot stand," before leading the attempt to repeal the 1864 law on Wednesday.
  • Bolick and Gress are in competitive districts and face tough races.

Parting shot: "Kudos to the AZ Supreme Court for faithfully interpreting our laws instead of opting for a political ruling," Barto posted on X Tuesday.

  • "Sad to see lawmakers falling all over themselves to 'fix' this by now calling for a new 15 week ban."

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