Arizona House Repeals Controversial 1864

April 26, 2024

On April 24, 2024, Arizona state House lawmakers successfully passed a bill on their third try in three weeks to repeal an 1864 law that strictly prohibited abortions. This old law, dating back to the Civil War era, categorized abortion as a felony, punishable by two to five years in prison for anyone involved in performing or facilitating the procedure.

The vote in the state House saw three Republican members join Democrats in favor of repealing this longstanding abortion ban. This follows a recent decision by members of the state Senate, which is also narrowly controlled by Republicans, who last week voted to introduce a bill aimed at repealing the ban. In that vote, two Republicans sided with all the Democrats present.

The state Senate is scheduled to vote on this repeal next Wednesday after the bill undergoes a “third reading,” as mandated by chamber rules. Sources familiar with the legislative process in Arizona have indicated that the Senate is likely to pass the repeal. If this occurs, Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs is expected to sign the repeal into law promptly.

The move to repeal the 1864 abortion ban has been widely supported by abortion rights advocates and Democratic leaders, reaching up to the White House. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre commented on the vote, stating, “That’s a good thing. We’re moving forward in the right direction.”

The decision to push for a repeal came after the Arizona Supreme Court upheld the old abortion ban earlier in the month. This ruling prompted calls from significant Republican figures, including former President Donald Trump, urging Arizona lawmakers to abolish the ban. This comes amid broader political repercussions for the GOP regarding reproductive rights, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision nearly two years ago to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Initially, Republicans in the Arizona state House resisted advancing a repeal bill despite holding a slim majority. However, the recent vote reflects a shift, with Republican RINOs Matt Gress, Tim Dunn, and Justin Wilmeth breaking ranks to join the 29 Democrats in passing the repeal.

During the voting session, Republican opponents of the repeal voiced their objections. State House Speaker Ben Toma expressed concerns about rushing the legislative process, stating, “Instead today we are rushing to judgment.” House Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham also spoke against the bill, remarking on the political dynamics at play and criticizing the use of the issue as a “weaponization” against the Republican party.

In the aftermath of the vote, Speaker Pro Tempore Grantham described the situation as “awful, disgusting,” and took disciplinary action by removing Rep. Matt Gress and Democratic Assistant Minority Leader Oscar De Los Santos from their committee assignments.

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