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Arizona State House Approves Repeal of Controversial 1864 Abortion Law

The Republican-Controlled Arizona State House Approves Repeal of 1864 Abortion Law

The Republican-Controlled Arizona State House Approves Repeal of 1864 Abortion Law

The Republican-controlled Arizona state House on Wednesday approved a repeal of an 1864 abortion law that would have banned nearly all abortions, sending the measure to the state Senate.

The state Senate is set to convene next on May 1. The 1864 law is set to go into effect on June 8, and it would supersede what had been the current 15-week abortion ban.

Two Republicans joined all the Democrats to overrule GOP House Speaker Ben Toma, who twice previously blocked the bill from moving forward.

Arizona Supreme Court’s Ruling and Efforts for Repeal

Earlier this month, the state Supreme Court ruled that the highly-restrictive 160-year-old law that bans nearly all abortions can be enforced — blocking the procedure in all cases except to save the life of the mother.

When asked Tuesday how she feels about the Democratic effort in the Arizona State Legislature to repeal an 1864 abortion ban before it goes into effect, Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton laughed.

“I was told that we could get a clean repeal tomorrow, but you know, who knows, right?” Stahl Hamilton said. “Who knows who loses their nerve, you know, the night before the day? Or minutes before, you know? All I know is we got to keep trying. And people in Arizona need us to continue to do everything we can to repeal this ban.”

An April 17 effort to repeal the ban by means of a temporary rule change fell one vote short. With the support of two Senate Republicans, the upper chamber was able to make headway by getting a first reading of a repeal bill, but two more readings are required before it could be brought to a vote.

House Speaker Ben Toma, a vocal critic of Democrats on abortion, stated that the legislature would “take the time needed to listen to our constituents and carefully consider appropriate actions, rather than rush legislation on a topic of this magnitude without a larger discussion.”

Toma also claimed in his statement that “under the Democrats’ view, partial birth abortions would be allowed, and minors could get abortions on demand without parental consent or a court order,” even though there is no indication that a repeal of the 160-year-old law would allow either.

Arizona Senate Democrats have cast doubt on the future of any repeal efforts moving forward in the House. Stahl Hamilton acknowledged that getting Republican support to repeal the ban is a tall task. Even though they seem to have the numbers to do so, she is concerned that at the last minute, minds will change.

Democratic state Sen. Eva Burch told CBS News that the Republican caucus in Arizona is fractured and cannot agree on how to address the prospect of a Civil War-era abortion ban going into effect.

“I have no confidence at all that the repeal is going to go through, certainly not in the way that it should — not in the way that’s being called for. We’ve already passed that point,” Burch said.

“So do I think that they’re going to come together and do the right thing?” Burch went on. “I don’t have any faith that that’s what’s going to happen.”

Democratic state Sen. Anna Hernandez also said she wasn’t confident in the prospect of any repeal effort but noted “anything can happen.”

Arizona Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, is calling on legislators to oppose those efforts and plans on organizing at the state capitol as well.

Elizabeth Campbell contributed reporting.

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