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Arizona Senate votes to repeal Civil War era abortion ban

Arizona Senate votes to repeal Civil War era abortion ban
By Yagiz Efe Parmaksiz
May 2, 2024 2:34 AM

Arizona’s upper house overturns the anti-abortion law of 1864, despite the state’s highest court upholding the ruling just one month prior

Lawmakers in Arizona’s upper house took a historic vote on Wednesday to overturn the anti-abortion law of 1864 despite state’s highest court upholding the legitimacy of the Civil War-era ruling barely one month prior to this ruling.

The repeal marks the latest development in the ongoing and contentious abortion debate in the United States, a topic expected to loom large in the upcoming presidential election, widely anticipated to be a rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs posted on social media to express her happiness with the outcome, writing, “I’m glad to see the Senate answered my call and voted to repeal the 1864 total abortion ban.” The struggle for reproductive freedoms is only getting started, she said, even though this action is critical for safeguarding women’s health.

Arizona was catapulted into the national limelight over the abortion rights controversy when its Supreme Court affirmed a 160-year-old, obscure statute that outlawed abortion and carried a maximum five-year jail sentence—with no protections for rape or incest.

The judgment of the court brought to light the lack of state legislation supporting the right to an abortion, meaning that the legality of the procedure depends only on the US Supreme Court’s historic Roe v. Wade decision, which protected the rights to an abortion across the country.

Once the Roe v. Wade decision was overturned by a conservative-dominated court in 2022, Arizona went back to its old laws, which prompted national Republican Party leaders to demand for a modicum of the abortion prohibition. Local Republicans, for the most part, were unyielding and opposed to any reforms.

Progressive Republicans’ willingness to work across party lines in the House of Representatives and the Senate to achieve the repeal ultimately paid off, despite adamant opposition from their own party.

Republican Senator Shawnna Bolick delivered a moving speech to the senate in which she discussed her personal experience with abortion and emphasized the significance of access to the procedure even in situations when it is not always life-threatening.

Neighbor Republican Anthony Kern, for his part, regretted that the party could not unite around what he considered to be “the best abortion ban in the nation,” saying he thought that position would appeal to voters.

The political environment of Arizona is characterized by a clear difference between urban and rural areas. While rural areas continue to vote conservative, rapidly rising cities are increasingly supporting Democratic politicians. Biden’s victory in 2020 by a mere 10,000 votes highlighted the state’s crucial role in presidential politics.

Democrats, who see the abortion debate as a potential rallying cry for voters, have reacted quickly to the moves taken by numerous Republican-controlled states to restrict access to the procedure following the Roe v. Wade decision. Democrats are working hard to bolster support for Biden’s reelection by campaigning for initiatives, such as one that will be on the Arizona ballot in November that would codify the right to an abortion in state law.

Source: AFP

Last Updated:  Jun 3, 2024 4:55 PM