Arizona House Fails to Repeal 160-Year-Old Abortion Ban

Arizona House fails to repeal 160-year-old abortion ban, sparking protests and concerns over women's reproductive rights. Senate bill still in progress, with a potential ballot initiative to enshrine abortion rights.

Rizwan Shah
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Arizona House Fails to Repeal 160-Year-Old Abortion Ban

Arizona House Fails to Repeal 160-Year-Old Abortion Ban

The Arizona House of Representatives has failed to repeal the state's 160-year-old near-total ban on abortions. House Republicans blocked efforts to take up legislation that would have repealed the ban, which was recently upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court in a 4-2 decision. The ban criminalizes all abortions except when a mother's life is at stake.

Democratic lawmakers in the House attempted to pass a bill to repeal the 1864 law, but it failed to advance due to the Republican majority. Republicans claimed the repeal bill was being rushed and said the law had been reaffirmed by the legislature several times, though the last time was in 1913. "This is not going away," said Rep. Lupe Contreras, vowing that House Democrats would continue their repeal attempts.

The bill was successfully introduced in the state Senate, with the help of two Republican senators, Shawnna Bolick and T.J. Shope, who sided with Democrats. However, the bill still needs to go through the full legislative process in the Senate before potentially moving to the House. The narrow margins in both chambers illustrate the tensions over the issue since the Arizona Supreme Court reinstated the pre-Roe ban.

Why this matters: The failure to repeal the 160-year-old abortion ban has significant implications for women's reproductive rights in Arizona. The ban's reinstatement has sparked protests and raised concerns among healthcare providers and advocates about the potential consequences for pregnant women seeking abortions in the state.

Abortion rights supporters gathered outside the Capitol to protest the House's inaction, while anti-abortion advocates also demonstrated. The Center for Arizona Policy, a pro-life group, celebrated the temporary victory for the "unborn and their mothers." Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs, who supports the repeal, criticized the Republican "extremists" in the House for failing to act.

If the 1864 law were repealed, Arizona would revert to a 15-week abortion restriction signed into law in 2022. The ban prohibits abortion except to save the life of the pregnant person and threatens providers with prison sentences. A citizen initiative to enshrine abortion rights in the state Constitution is expected to be on the November ballot, potentially giving voters the opportunity to establish a "fundamental right to abortion" up to fetal viability, with exceptions after that point.

Key Takeaways

  • Arizona House fails to repeal 160-year-old near-total abortion ban
  • Bill to repeal ban introduced in Senate, needs full legislative process
  • Reinstatement of ban sparks protests, concerns for healthcare providers
  • If repealed, Arizona would revert to 15-week abortion restriction
  • Citizen initiative to enshrine abortion rights expected on November ballot