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Arizona State Senate repeals 1864 abortion ban

A+crowd+of+University+of+Arizona+students+and+community+members+chant+and+shout+while+holding+signs+in+support+of+pro-choice+on+Thursday%2C+April+13.+The+protest+was+held+to+counter+the+anti-abortion+group+that+set+up+a+demonstration+on+the+UA+Mall+for+two+consecutive+days+displaying+large%2C+graphic+images+of+blood+and+dead+people.%26nbsp%3B
Noor Haghighi
A crowd of University of Arizona students and community members chant and shout while holding signs in support of pro-choice on Thursday, April 13, 2023. The protest was held to counter the anti-abortion group that set up a demonstration on the UA Mall for two consecutive days displaying large, graphic images of blood and dead people.

The nation turned its focus to Arizona today as Democrats in the Arizona State Senate were able to narrowly clear the 16-vote threshold to repeal the near-total 1864 abortion ban in the state. Two Senate Republicans crossed party lines to join the Democrats in repealing this law

The Civil War-era law has been dormant for years since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. The ban only recently came to light in June 2022 when Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich persuaded a state judge in Pima County that the ban should again be enforced after Roe v. Wade was overturned. On April 9, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled to uphold the ban that only allows abortion in cases that would save the patient’s life

Last week, on April 24, the Arizona House of Representatives voted to repeal this law, moving it forward to the Senate. This repeal is now expected to be signed by Arizona’s Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs. Had this repeal not passed in the Senate, the ban would have gone into effect on June 8. 

Hobbs has been extremely vocal about her support for repealing the ban in Arizona. 

“As long as I am Governor, I will do everything in my power to protect and expand reproductive freedom, and I will continue to serve as a backstop to the harmful legislation being pushed by extremists in an attempt to control women’s bodies,” Hobbs said last week after the repeal was passed in the house. 

Senator Anthony Kern from District 27 criticized the two Republicans, Senators Shawnna Bolick from District 2 and T.J. Shope from District 16, who voted to repeal the ban

“Abortion is one of the tenets, one of the grounds, one of the principles of the Republican party and yet again we have two Republicans voting with the Democrats to repeal an abortion ban while saying ‘I’m pro-life’. That’s kind of like Nazi Germany where the Nazis said, ‘Jews, you have something wrong with you, you go to the death chamber. You, Jews, can live and work in the fields.’ It’s wrong,” Kern said. 

Bolick voted with Democrats, citing her experiences with complications during pregnancies. She suggested that voting for this repeal would weaken support for the Democratic-led initiative to broaden abortion access on the ballot in the upcoming November election. 

“Very little legislation written and signed into law is ever perfect. Until we have a better choice in this matter, I side with saving more babies’ lives,” Bolick said.

Senator David Gowan from District 14 compared today’s vote to the 2001 terrorist attacks. 

“Today feels like 9/11,” Gowan said.

On the other side of the aisle, Senator Eva Burch from District 9 argued that this law should be repealed since it was passed before women were allowed to vote.

“We’re here to repeal a bad law. I don’t want us honoring laws about women written during a time when women were forbidden from voting because their voices were considered inferior to men,” Burch said. 

Burch then went on to call out the senators citing their religion as an argument to keep abortion illegal. 

“I appreciate the passionate religious convictions of members who have risen to announce their faith. I respect it. My beliefs are different from yours. I’m not afraid of the abortions that I had. I do not fear for my soul. They were the right decisions for me and I don’t have to follow your religion in this country,” Burch said.

Arizona abortion rights activists are still fighting to get a state constitutional amendment to keep abortion legal. According to a post from rally.for.roe on Instagram, students are planning a protest at the University of Arizona on May 4 to continue to fight for abortion rights.


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