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Democratic Arizona Governor Signs Repeal Bill to Overturn Civil War-Era Abortion Ban

PHOENIX (AP) – Democratic Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs has taken a significant step to protect reproductive health care by signing a repeal bill that ends a long-standing ban on most abortions. Hobbs, who has always been vocal about the need to repeal the ban, stated that this is just the beginning of the fight for reproductive rights in Arizona. However, the repeal is not expected to take effect until 90 days after the end of the legislative session, which will be in June or July. Abortion rights advocates are hoping for court intervention to prevent any delays in the repeal.

Repealing a Long-Dormant Ban

The repeal bill, which sought to overturn a Civil War-era law that permitted only life-saving abortions, received final legislative approval with a vote of 16-14 in the Senate. Two Republican lawmakers joined forces with Democrats to pass the bill. Hobbs criticized the ban that was passed by 27 men before Arizona even became a state, emphasizing that it was enacted at a time when the country was deeply divided over issues such as slavery and women’s suffrage.

Emotional and Personal Testimonies

The Senate vote became an emotionally charged and lengthy affair as lawmakers shared their motivations and beliefs. Some Senators described abortion procedures in graphic detail, played amplified audio recordings of fetal heartbeats, and warned against legislating religious beliefs. The tension within the chamber displayed the deeply divided opinions on the issue and the importance of protecting reproductive rights.

Implications and Actions

The repeal of the long-standing ban is expected to significantly influence the landscape of abortion laws in Arizona. The repeal bill will replace the 1864 law with a 2022 statute that bans the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with certain exceptions. Supporters and opponents of abortion rights are already gearing up for the upcoming legal battles on the possibility of a court intervention, as well as the collection of signatures for a ballot measure that proposes additional exceptions for abortions.

Voices of Advocacy

Various lawmakers and advocates have expressed their opinions and hopes for the future following the repeal. Democratic former Rep. Athena Salman, who initially proposed the repeal in 2019, expressed her joy and relief, emphasizing the impact it would have on future generations. Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, who grew up on the Navajo Nation, shared her personal experiences that shaped her beliefs and her fight for reproductive rights. Advocates and healthcare providers are optimistic that the repeal will prevent individuals from having to seek abortion care in other states.

The Political and Legal Landscape

The fall of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and the subsequent restrictive abortion laws have become a central issue in battleground states like Arizona. President Joe Biden’s campaign team believes that the public’s anger over the abortion laws may provide political advantage. The issue of abortion has also created divisions within Republican leadership, emphasizing the complex nature of the debate.

Anticipating Legal Challenges

Planned Parenthood Arizona filed a motion to the state Supreme Court, requesting precautions against a pause in abortion services until the legislative repeal takes effect. The specifics regarding the enforcement and prospective legal challenges to the repeal are yet to be determined. Republican lawmakers, on the other hand, are considering putting forward alternative abortion proposals for the November ballot.

Looking Ahead

By signing the repeal bill, Governor Hobbs has taken a significant step towards protecting reproductive health care. The repeal of the Civil War-era abortion ban in Arizona is seen as a victory for those advocating for reproductive rights, as it brings hope for a more accessible and inclusive healthcare environment for women.


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