/ Modified apr 24, 2024 5:43 p.m.

AZ House approves repeal of near-total abortion ban

The bill now heads to the Senate.

360 cap dome 2021 A view of the dome atop the Arizona Capitol Museum at the State Capitol in Phoenix. January 2021.
AZPM Staff

Arizona’s House of Representatives Wednesday approved a repeal of the state’s near-total abortion ban. The move comes after a contentious few weeks at the Capitol following the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling to enforce the Civil War-era law.

“Today we were rushing to judgment,” Speaker Ben Toma said in opposition. “And as I've also said before, this doesn't make this any effective any sooner.”

The legislation is now headed to the Senate. However, if the law is repealed, it will not go into effect until 91 days after the legislature closes its regular session. Most years that means bills will not go into effect until late summer or early fall.

Arizona’s ban is set to take place on June 8th, meaning Arizonans could still face a period where they will not be able to receive care unless their life is at risk.

An opponent of repeal, Republican Representative Alexander Kolodin, said some GOP members called for repealing the 1864 law on political grounds.

“I've had some members of the Republican grassroots come up to me and go, you guys really have to repeal the pre-Roe law…because if you don't, the Democrats are going to beat us in the election.”

At the time of the vote, three Republicans–Tim Dunn, Matt Gress, and Justin Wilmeth–crossed party lines siding with Democrats. Immediately after, Toma removed Democratic assistant minority leader Oscar De Los Santos from the committee on rules and appropriations, and Gress from the committee on appropriations. Gress made the motion to bring the bill to the floor for a reading immediately.

"As someone who is both Pro-Life and the product of strong women in my life, I refuse to buy into the false notion pushed by the extremes on both sides of this issue that we cannot respect and protect women and defend new life at the same time," Gress said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. "I urge my Senate colleagues to take up this matter quickly."

Governor Katie Hobbs praised House Democrats following Wednesday’s session.

“Today, I am glad to see the House follow my calls to repeal the archaic 1864 total abortion ban that could jail doctors and endanger the lives of women in Arizona,” Hobbs said. “I’m thankful to House Democrats who worked relentlessly for years to repeal this draconian ban. Now, the Senate must do the right thing and send this repeal to my desk.”

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona is optimistic about the future of a repeal but is calling for more.

“Despite this step forward, Arizonans cannot stop fighting,” President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona Angela Florez said. “Even with the repeal of the Civil War-era ban, the state will still have a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy that denies people access to critical care. And lawmakers continue to attack Arizonans’ ability to access reproductive health care. Our right to control our bodies and lives is hanging on by a thread.”

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