Arizona Democrats say they will try again to repeal 1864 abortion ban

By Thomson Reuters Apr 24, 2024 | 1:58 PM

By Brad Brooks

(Reuters) – Democrats in Arizona’s House of Representatives said on Wednesday they would try once more to repeal an 1864 ban on abortion that may go into effect next month if not knocked down.

The Arizona House Democrats said on social media that they would try to bring for a vote Representative Stephanie Stahl Hamilton’s bill that calls for the repeal of the 160-year-old ban.

“The decision to get an abortion, or seek any type of reproductive healthcare, belongs in the hands of patients, their families and their providers, not politicians,” Democratic Representative Oscar De Los Santos told reporters before Thursday’s session began.

Arizona’s fight over the Civil War-era abortion ban is the latest flashpoint on women’s reproductive rights in the United States since the U.S. Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion in 2022, leaving it up to states to decide the issue. Conservative-led states quickly invoked strict bans on abortion within their borders.

The old law was revived by a state Supreme Court ruling on April 9, and unless the legislature intervenes, it could take effect within 60 days of that ruling.

Even if Democrats in Arizona manage to repeal the 1864 abortion ban, restrictions on the procedure would still be in place. Arizona Republicans in 2022 passed a law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Democrats across the U.S., confident that public opinion is on their side in supporting abortion rights, have sought to elevate the issue, especially ahead of November’s presidential election. Arizona, sharply split between Democrats and Republicans, is a key battleground state in the presidential election.

Arizona Democrats have tried to repeal the 1864 abortion ban twice in recent weeks, but were blocked by procedural means to even bring the measure up for a vote.

With or without repealing the 1864 law, Arizona Democrats are also attempting to place a ballot measure before voters in November that would restore abortion rights.

Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs has labeled the Republicans who are upholding the old abortion ban as “extremists” and has said she will sign a repeal of the ban if it passes the House and the Senate.

(This story has been refiled to fix the day of the week in paragraph 1)

(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Longmont, Colorado; editing by Jonathan Oatis)