Arizona House Speaker Blocks Efforts to Repeal 1864 Abortion Ban

Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma blocks efforts to repeal the state's 1864 abortion ban, despite the Supreme Court upholding it. The political fallout could upend conservative majorities and hurt Trump's campaign in the swing state.

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Arizona House Speaker Blocks Efforts to Repeal 1864 Abortion Ban

Arizona House Speaker Blocks Efforts to Repeal 1864 Abortion Ban

Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma (R) is blocking efforts to repeal the state's 1864 abortion ban, despite the Arizona Supreme Court upholding the law. The Senate appears ready to approve a repeal, but the House is more problematic, as Toma could prevent the bill from being heard.

Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton (D) may have the votes to bypass the speaker and bring the repeal measure directly to the floor, but procedural requirements mean it may not be effective until August or later. Meanwhile, Attorney General Kris Mayes has informed hospitals that they are not in immediate legal jeopardy if they continue performing abortions, due to a court order.

Toma sees the ban as upholding moral principles rooted in Christianity, the Constitution, and the Bible, rather than as a "Civil-War-era law." This commitment to the abortion ban, which was recently reinstated by the Arizona Supreme Court, highlights the power of conservative Christian abortion opponents in shaping state-level abortion laws, even as they represent a minority view.

Why this matters: The political fallout from the Supreme Court decision is still being navigated, with some Republican lawmakers in competitive districts facing pressure on the issue. The backlash against the territorial ban could upend conservative majorities in the state and hurt former President Trump's campaign in the crucial swing state.

Toma is caught between national Republicans, including former President Trump and Kari Lake, who want the ban repealed, and his own Republican primary voters who are unlikely to reward him for compromising on abortion restrictions. Toma has defended the 1864 law in the past, but the issue has become politically complex for Republicans.

Abortion rights supporters and Democrats have criticized the Republican-controlled legislature's moves to maintain the 160-year-old ban. However, voters in Arizona may have the opportunity to decide the future of the ban through a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would create a "fundamental right" to abortion care up until fetal viability.

The century-old law, which was passed before Arizona became a state, makes abortion a felony punishable by two to five years in prison. Toma has cited the complex ethical and moral issues surrounding abortion as the reason for his opposition to repealing the ban. The state Supreme Court's recent ruling to reinstate the 1864 ban has caused a national uproar and forced a political reckoning among Republicans, many of whom have long said abortion is morally indefensible.

Key Takeaways

  • Arizona House Speaker Toma blocks efforts to repeal 1864 abortion ban despite court upholding it.
  • Attorney General Mayes says hospitals not in immediate legal jeopardy for continuing abortions.
  • Toma sees ban as upholding moral principles, highlighting power of conservative Christian opponents.
  • Backlash against ban could hurt GOP in Arizona, a crucial swing state, and former Pres. Trump.
  • Voters may decide future of ban through proposed constitutional amendment on November ballot.