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Arizona Republicans Preventing Democratic Efforts to Overturn 1864 Abortion Ban

Republicans thwarted attempts to repeal Arizona's 1864 abortion ban (Credits: Source New Mexico)

In the Arizona House of Representatives, efforts by Democrats to repeal an 1864 abortion ban met with staunch resistance from Republicans, resulting in a series of deadlocked votes.

The historic law, which carries severe penalties for those performing abortions and was written during the Civil War era before Arizona achieved statehood, was reinstated by a state Supreme Court ruling earlier this month. The law could soon be re-enacted, affecting millions of Arizona women, unless it is overturned by legislative action.

The deadlock occurred repeatedly on Wednesday, with four attempts to bring a repeal bill to the floor ending in 30-30 ties. The ties were outstanding because they included support from one Republican, Rep. Matt Gress, alongside the 29 Democrats in favor of the repeal.

Arizona Legislature (Credits: Wikipedia)

Despite this bipartisan support, the motion required just one more vote. The chamber eventually recessed without resolution, planning to reconvene later.

Governor Katie Hobbs labeled the opposition to the repeal as “extremist” and reiterated her commitment to overturning the outdated statute. She emphasized the paradox of a law crafted by 27 men in 1864 dictating modern health and reproductive rights.

The revival of the 1864 law follows a national trend triggered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2022 to overturn Roe v. Wade, leading to a wave of restrictive abortion laws in Republican-led states. Arizona itself passed a law in 2022 restricting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which would remain even if the 1864 law were repealed.

Arizona Abortion Ban (Credits: CNN)

Democrats, sensing broad public support for reproductive rights, have been actively pushing to repeal the old ban, hoping to galvanize voter support ahead of the November 5 election. They are also working on getting a ballot measure in front of voters this November that would explicitly restore abortion rights.

Meanwhile, prominent anti-abortion advocates like Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, have urged Republicans to stand firm on their anti-abortion stances, adding pressure to an already heated political environment.

The ongoing legislative struggle reflects a broader national debate over abortion rights and the role of state laws in regulating them, underscoring the deep divisions and the high stakes involved as both parties gear up for the upcoming electoral contests.

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