Arizona takes major step toward repealing near-total abortion ban from 1864

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The Arizona House of Representatives has voted to remove a 160-year-old law that bans abortion, marking a significant win for Democrats who want to eliminate this law.

Republicans had blocked two previous attempts to vote on ending the ban, which prohibits abortions from the moment of conception and doesn’t make exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

However, three members of the Republican party broke ranks on Wednesday and joined Democrats in voting to repeal the law, even though the house is narrowly divided.

Now, the bill moves to the senate, where it stands a good chance of passing.

Earlier this month, Arizona’s supreme court brought back the 1864 law, causing widespread outcry across the country, where most people support abortion rights.

Last week, two Republican senators voted to move forward with a similar bill, indicating that there’s enough support among Republicans in the senate to repeal the ban.

Governor Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, has signaled that she’ll sign the bill if it reaches her desk.

Lawmakers who oppose the ban are under pressure because it’s set to go back into effect in June.

Representative Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, who introduced the bill to repeal the ban, emphasized that the people of Arizona are eagerly awaiting this change.

The ban has also put Republicans in a tough spot as they approach the general elections in November. Abortion has been a contentious issue since the US Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to abortion in 2022.

While some Republicans, like former President Donald Trump, have distanced themselves from the ban and called for compromise, others, such as Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma, have defended it.

One of the Republican legislators who voted with Democrats, Matt Gress, criticized the ban as “unworkable” and “out of line with the values of Arizonans.”

After the vote, Gress was reportedly removed from the appropriations committee by Speaker Toma.

If the repeal effort doesn’t succeed in the senate, the 1864 ban will likely become effective on June 8.

However, if the ban is lifted, Arizona’s current 15-week abortion ban will remain in place.

There’s also a possibility for Arizona voters to have a say on this issue through a ballot initiative that aims to protect abortion rights up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Activists claim they’ve already gathered enough signatures to put this question to voters in the fall.

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