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Arizona votes to repeal abortion ban from Civil War era

Arizona state flag justice

Mehaniq | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 04/27/24

The state House narrowly voted to repeal the 1864 law, but can it pass the state Senate, where the Republicans hold the majority?

The Arizona State House of Representatives has voted to repeal a near-total abortion ban that has been on the books since 1864. Earlier in April, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld the law, which would deal prison sentences to doctors who provided abortions past 15 weeks for any reason other than to save the life of the mother. 

Catholic World Report notes that the 1864 law had been dormant since 1973, when the federal-level ruling on Roe v Wade invalidated the state’s measures. After Roe was repealed by the US Supreme Court, in 2022, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that there was no reason the 1864 law should remain dormant and it could once again be enforced

The ruling sent state legislators into action, with Democrats leading the charge to strike the law, while the Republican majority voted to keep it in place. Two votes failed to remove the law, but the third – on April 24 – passed when three Republican representatives switched sides, at a vote of 32-28. 

According to the AZ Mirror, the bill is now headed to the Senate, but the Senate is only meeting one day each week while it negotiates its budget. Due to this, the Senate’s vote on the bill is expected to be delayed until at least May 1. The report does note, however, that the Senate has introduced its own bill that is nearly identical to the House measure. The Senate may substitute this bill for the vote, in which case – if passed – it could head straight to the governor’s desk. 

It is unclear, however, whether or not the Senate will pass the bill. Arizona’s Senate is also a narrow split between the two parties, but Republicans enjoy a 16-14 majority. Still, if another three Senators can be flipped as the three Republican Representatives were, the bill could be passed and signed in early May, going into effect on June 8, 90 days after the legislative session ends. 

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