Arizona House Votes to Repeal Controversial Abortion Law

( – The issue of abortion will likely be one of the main issues of the 2024 election. Democrats are campaigning heavily against Republicans who supported the overturning of Roe v. Wade. That includes former President Donald Trump, who made it possible by putting three Conservative justices on the Supreme Court and cementing a 6-3 majority for the right.

Arizona is a key battleground state, and its highest court recently ruled an abortion ban from the 1800s should take effect. After outrage from both sides of the political spectrum, the state’s House voted to repeal the ban.

The Ban and Court Ruling

In 1864, long before Arizona became a state, officials passed an incredibly restrictive abortion ban with ARS 13-3603. The law states that anyone who helps terminate a pregnancy (like a doctor) could be sent to prison for two to five years.

Arizona courts placed an injunction on the 1864 law after the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973. The injunction prevented the law from being enforced. Instead of repealing the law, lawmakers recodified the language in it to make a political point.

When the Supreme Court handed down the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in 2022, then-Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) moved to lift the injunction on the 1864 law. A judge lifted the injunction, and then, after a series of court cases, it went before the state Supreme Court.

The Arizona Supreme Court allowed the law to take effect in early April. There was an immediate backlash and a bipartisan group of lawmakers moved to repeal the law. Republicans, who control the legislature, shut down the effort. The bill went back to the lower chamber recently and lawmakers did repeal it.

Republicans Break Ranks

On April 24, three Republicans — Reps. Tim Dunn, Justin Wilmeth, and Matt Gress — joined Democrats in the state House of Representatives and voted to repeal the 1864 law. The motion passed the lower chamber by 31 to 28.

Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton (D) introduced the one-sentence bill to repeal the 160-year-old legislation. She called the vote “a step in the right direction,” The New York Times reported. She also said the repeal would continue to move the state forward.

House Speaker Ben Toma (R) was furious when members of his party helped Democrats. After the vote, he lashed out, saying, “I don’t know what just happened here. I’m done.” He quickly moved to punish Gress by removing him from the House appropriations committee.

The bill now moves to the Senate where its future is uncertain.

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