May 1, 2024 - News

Arizona Senate repeals 1864 abortion ban

A person holding a small Arizona flag and a sign that reads freedom to decide.

Supporters of Arizona for Abortion Access gather in April. Photo: Rebecca Noble/Getty Images

The Arizona Senate voted on Wednesday to repeal the state's pre-Roe ban on nearly all abortions, the final step before it goes to Gov. Katie Hobbs, who has said she'll sign it.

Why it matters: Repealing the ban, which dates to early territorial days in 1864, will allow a 2022 law permitting abortions through 15 weeks of pregnancy to go into effect.

Reality check: That won't happen until 90 days after the legislative session ends.

  • Sessions have no set time limits, and the only deadline lawmakers face is July 1, the date by which they must pass a budget.

The big picture: Republican lawmakers spent more than three hours lamenting the expected repeal and shaming the two members of their own party — Shawnna Bolick of Phoenix and T.J. Shope of Coolidge — who joined the Senate's 14 Democrats to undo the 1864 law.

  • "We are getting rolled again by two Republicans to repeal one of the best, strongest pro-life measures in the country," Sen. Jake Hoffman of Queen Creek said on the floor.

Catch up quick: The Arizona Supreme Court last month reinstated the abortion ban, ruling that it wasn't superseded by the 15-week law.

Driving the news: In a 20-minute floor speech Wednesday, Bolick shared stories of her three pregnancies — including one that ended with a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure to remove a non-viable fetus — to illustrate how "not every pregnancy is the same."

  • She also noted that keeping the 1864 ban on the books would make it more likely that voters would support the Arizona Abortion Access Act ballot measure, which she said goes "way too far."
  • "I am here to protect more babies," Bolick said.

Between the lines: The ban is likely to take effect before the repeal, but not until at least 45 days after the Arizona Supreme Court issues its final mandate, a date that won't come until June 27 at the earliest, the attorney general's office said.

  • Attorney General Kris Mayes on Tuesday asked the court to withhold its final mandate for an additional 90 days while she decides whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Hobbs last year issued an executive order purporting to strip county attorneys of authority to prosecute abortion-related crimes and consolidate it under Mayes, a fellow Democrat who has vowed not to enforce the ban.
  • But providers say they won't perform illegal abortions, regardless of whether the attorney general's office plans to prosecute.

What's next: House Republicans may refer several measures to the November ballot that would compete with the Arizona for Abortion Access initiative.

  • No proposals have been introduced in the Legislature yet.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information about Wednesday's vote.

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