Arizona House of Representatives Passes Legislation to Repeal Civil War-Era Abortion Ban

State legislators in Arizona House Wednesday passed a bill that would repeal an abortion ban from the Civil War era that was upheld by the state’s Supreme Court earlier in the month.

Three state GOPs joined the 29 Democrat representatives in passing the bill. The vote Wednesday makes it the third attempt by the body in three weeks to take steps to repeal the 1964 statute that bans abortion except in the instances of “immediate” life-threatening conditions for the mother.

The law, which is 160 years old, predated Arizona’s statehood and was held up by the state Supreme Court on a legal technicality that involved the state’s 15-week abortion ban that was passed after the historic leak of the drafted Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in May 2022.

The slim GOP majorities in the state Senate and House have held firm for several weeks, attempting to block efforts for the repeal of the abortion ban. Last week, Democrats in the State Senate and two GOP members voted in favor of a motion to introduce legislation that would repeal the 1864 law

After Wednesday’s vote in the House, Senate rules will require that the bill be read on the floor on three separate occasions and in three separate sessions. This means the final bill will likely not be passed until next month at the earliest.

The legislation, which penalizes the provision of abortion by two to five years in prison, was set to take effect on April 23, per the ruling by the Supreme Court.

Abortion law has caused significant controversy in the Grand Canyon State

The abortion law in Arizona has caused substantial controversy for the GOP in the Grand Canyon state as tensions related to the controversial procedure ramp up through the 2024 election cycle.

Keri Lake, current GOP federal Senate and former candidate for governor, has received sharp bipartisan criticism regarding her changing opinion of the 1864 abortion law.

In a weekend interview with the Idaho Dispatch, the GOP firebrand said the 19th-century legislation would “unfortunately” not be enforced. This statement by Lake contradicted her earlier statement this month that the law “is out of line with where the people of this state are.”

Whether or not the Arizona government repeals the almost-total abortion ban, the debacle could have substantial implications for the looming ballot measure to secure abortion in the Arizona Constitution as a “fundamental right.”

Advocates for abortion rights in the state say they have collected enough signatures for an abortion rights amendment protecting access to abortion up until fetal viability. Viability conditions in medical practice often are dependent on patient conditions. However, experts agree a fetus is likely to survive outside the womb between 20 and 24 weeks of pregnancy.