Apr 18, 2024 - News

Abortion stalemate continues

Protesters holding signs with abortion rights slogans stand next to the street.

Arizona residents rally for abortion rights on Tuesday in Phoenix. Photo: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Arizona Senate took a concrete step toward repealing the state's pre-Roe abortion ban yesterday, but House Republicans continued to block similar efforts, leaving the fate of the 1864 law in question.

The big picture: The razor-thin margins — 30-30 in the House and 16-14 in the Senate — illustrate the tensions over the issue since the Arizona Supreme Court reinstated the pre-Roe ban last week.

  • In total, three Republicans in competitive districts joined Democrats to support repeal.
  • Attention now turns back to the state House, where the Republican speaker has vowed to continue to stymie the effort.

Driving the news: The soonest the Senate could take a final vote on the bill is in two weeks due to legislative procedures, the Senate Republicans' communications director, Kim Quintero, told reporters.

  • It would also take the House at least another two weeks to give the bill final approval because both chambers are only meeting once a week. They will reconvene next Wednesday.

Yes, but: House Speaker Ben Toma tells Axios he'll continue to block his chamber from voting on the bill if the Senate passes, just as he and most Republicans have now done twice.

  • "Quite frankly, I don't know how it's different," he says.

Reality check: Even if it were to pass, without supermajorities the repeal wouldn't go into effect until 90 days after the session ends — which has no fixed date. Last year's session, the longest in state history, lasted through July.

The intrigue: Rep. Matt Gress (R-Phoenix), the only House Republican to publicly support repeal, said he believes others will join him if it goes up for a vote. Only one more Republican is needed

  • But it's unclear whether others would go as far as overriding Toma, even if they support repeal.

Zoom in: Rep. Tim Dunn (R-Yuma), one of two other House Republicans who were heavily pressured yesterday to support repeal, told Axios he thinks the ban should be nixed.

  • But he wouldn't say whether he's willing to override Toma. He said he's committed to "continued conversations" with his caucus this week.

What's next: A citizen initiative to enshrine abortion rights in the state Constitution is expected to be on the November ballot.

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