United States

Arizona House Votes To Repeal 160-Year-Old Abortion Ban, Upholds 15-Week Restriction

In a historic move, the Arizona House of Representatives voted to repeal a 160-year-old abortion ban while upholding a 15-week restriction, marking a pivotal moment in the state's reproductive rights landscape.

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Arizona House Votes To Repeal 1864 Abortion Ban Photo: Getty Images
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On Wednesday, the Arizona House of Representatives made a significant decision to repeal the state's 160-year-old abortion ban. This move would maintain the existing 15-week restriction on abortions while overturning the antiquated law.

Following two unsuccessful attempts by state House lawmakers to bring the bill to the floor last week, the vote took place. Arizona GOP candidates in closely contested races have been hurrying to dissociate themselves from a recent state Supreme Court ruling. This ruling mandates adherence to the 1864 law, which prohibits all abortions except when deemed "necessary" to save a pregnant woman's life. Additionally, the law imposes prison sentences ranging from two to five years for abortion providers.

Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs is poised to support the repeal legislation, pending its passage in the state Senate.

Failure to repeal the old law could mean its enforcement as early as June 8, potentially placing Arizona among the states with strict abortion bans. Conversely, success would uphold the 15-week restriction as the law of the state.

The 15-week limit was established in March 2022, preceding the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Court. This law, signed by Republican Governor Doug Ducey, lacks exceptions for circumstances like rape or incest, and it explicitly does not supersede the 1864 law.

The origins of the 1864 abortion ban trace back to Arizona's territorial period before statehood, and it was formally written into law in 1901. Its enforcement continued until 1973 when it was halted by a court order following the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which recognized the federal constitutional right to abortion.

Abortion rights supporters are actively working to introduce a constitutional amendment proposal on Arizona's November ballot. This proposal aims to safeguard access to abortion up to fetal viability, typically considered to be around 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Arizona for Abortion Access, the organization championing this initiative, has amassed over 500,000 signatures. To secure a spot on the general election ballot, advocates must submit at least 384,000 valid signatures by July 3.

Prior to the recent vote in the Arizona House, the chamber's rules committee, divided along party lines, endorsed the late introduction of three House resolutions. These resolutions are widely perceived as ballot measures supported by Republicans, likely intended to rival the proposed abortion rights amendment.

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