Some Republicans expected to join Arizona Democrats to pass repeal of 1864 abortion ban


(PHOENIX) — Two Republican state senators are expected to join Democrats in Arizona on Wednesday to pass a bill to repeal the state’s Civil War-era near-total abortion ban — three weeks after the state Supreme Court ruled the law was enforceable and one week after the House passed its own legislation to roll back the restrictions that have stirred widespread controversy.

GOP state Sens. T.J. Shope and Shawnna Bolick have both indicated they will support the Democratic-led repeal effort, giving Democrats the necessary votes in the chamber.

Notably, Bolick is married to one of the state Supreme Court justices who voted to reinstate the 1864 law, which supersedes a 15-week abortion ban that was enacted in 2022 and which blocks all abortions except to save the life of the pregnant woman.

While Republicans in the state Senate could delay the repeal vote with procedural hurdles, Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, has expressed confidence the repeal bill will pass Wednesday.

Hobbs has also expressed frustration that the Legislature didn’t take action sooner, noting that unless the courts impose a pause on the 1864 abortion ban, there could be a monthslong gap between when it goes into effect and then its repeal kicks in.

As of Tuesday morning, the office of Attorney General Kris Mayes said the effective date for the ban has been pushed from June 8 to June 27, after the state Supreme Court rejected a motion to reconsider. If the ban is repealed by the Legislature, that move wouldn’t take effect until 90 days after the legislative session ends, which must be by June 30, meaning the repeal of the 1864 law may not take effect until around Oct. 1.

Some Democrats have acknowledged “uncertainty” that at least two GOP senators will vote for repeal on Wednesday “because the Republican Party has moved to the extremes since Trump first got elected,” Sen. Priya Sundareshan, a Democrat, said on a call with reporters on Tuesday.

Conservatives in the state House initially resisted efforts to fast-track legislation to undo the ban.

“Legislatures are not built for knee-jerk reactions,” state House Speaker Ben Toma said during one floor session.

He has also said that “abortion is a complicated topic — it is ethically, morally complex. I understand that we have deeply held beliefs, and I would ask everyone in this chamber to respect the fact that some of us who believe that abortion is in fact the murder of children.”

Anti-abortion groups have also rallied around the state Capitol seeking to urge lawmakers to stick by the ban. Arizona voter Desiree Mayes, a Republican, told ABC News last mont that “if you really if you really believe that babies in the womb are precious and valuable, they deserve equal protection,” she said, explaining she doesn’t support exceptions for rape or incest.

But Democrats, locally and across the country have called out the ban — as have some Republicans who otherwise say they oppose abortion, like Donald Trump. Three Republicans in the state House ultimately joined the Democratic minority to repeal the law.

“This is a stain on history that this ban even exists — from a time when the age of consent was 10, from a time when women didn’t have the right to vote,” Arizona state Sen. Eva Burch, a Democrat, previously told ABC News’ Elizabeth Schulze.

Anti-abortion groups are encouraging supporters of the near-total ban to again gather on the Capitol grounds on Wednesday to pressure Republicans to stick together and not join Democrats. Meanwhile, Arizona for Abortion Access organizers continue to gather signatures for a potential ballot initiative that would go before voters in November and would protect abortion up to the point of fetal viability, around 24 weeks into pregnancy.

House Republicans are considering proposing their own ballot measures for November to counter the pro-abortion access initiative.

“We don’t deserve to win the legislature if we cannot get it right on the basic tenets of our Republican platform, which is life,” said state GOP Sen. Anthony Kern.

If the repeal bill does not pass the state Senate, Democratic Sen. Sundareshan said her party would “keep fighting” by reintroducing bills or motions.

“We’ll do whatever is available to us to continue to fight to repeal this ban,” she told reporters on Tuesday. “And we will continue fighting to repeal all of the bans that remain on the books.”

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