Democrats successfully force vote on repealing 1864 abortion ban, passes House

abortion legislature

The gallery of the Arizona Senate filled as Democratic senators move forward a bill to repeal Arizona's 1864 abortion ban. Photo by Camaron Stevenson

By Camaron Stevenson

April 24, 2024

The Arizona legislature moved forward two bills Wednesday that would repeal the state’s 1864 abortion ban.

A bill to repeal the ban has been introduced in both chambers of the Arizona Legislature. Both bills, Senate Bill 1734 and House Bill 2677, contain identical language: “Section 13-3603, Arizona Revised Statutes, is repealed.” If passed, the state would revert to its 15-week abortion ban, which also has no exceptions for victims of sexual assault.

Here’s where both bills currently stand:

Arizona Senate

Sen. Anna Hernandez, D-Maryvale, successfully introduced SB 1734 on April 17. According to the legislature’s rules, bills must be read on the floor on three separate days. The proposal was successfully read a second time on Wednesday and is expected to be read for the third time on May 1.

After it is read, the Senate will vote on the bill—and if passed, it will be sent to the Arizona House for a vote. If passed by both chambers, the bill will be sent to Gov. Katie Hobbs’ desk to be signed into law.

“Next week when we come back, the House bill will be transmitted to the Senate,” Sen. Priya Sundareshan, D-Tucson, told The Copper Courier. “Because we have already first and second-read the same exact bill on the Senate side, we can swap it, vote immediately on it, and send it straight to the governor. So next week will be a big vote in the Senate.”

Arizona House

After blocking a vote on Tucson Democrat Rep. Stephanie Stahl-Hamilton’s HB 2677, Republican Reps. Matt Gress, Justin Wilmeth, and Tim Dunn—originally supporters of the state’s total abortion ban—sided with Democrats to allow the bill to come to a vote.

An attempt was made by Rep. Alexander Kolodin, R-Scottsdale, to amend the bill so the executive branch would be forced to enforce the state’s abortion laws after the total ban’s repeal. Currently, a joint effort by Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes will prevent patients and providers from being prosecuted under this law.

“If my colleagues insist on repealing the pre-Roe law,” said Kolodin. “What assurance do we have that Arizona’s executive officers enforce the law?”

The amendment failed, and after a tense back-and-forth between Democratic and Republican lawmakers, the repeal passed. It will now be sent to the Senate for a vote.

What’s next for abortion ban

If the Senate bill passes next week, legislative leaders could decide to merge the two repeal bills and send it straight to Hobbs. They could also decide to have both bills debated by their respective chambers, causing another delay in the abortion ban’s repeal.

Either way, laws passed by the legislature don’t go into effect until 90 days after the legislative session adjourns. Since no emergency clause was added to either bill so it would go into effect immediately after being signed into law, the total ban will be in effect—but not enforced—for several months.

Meanwhile, abortion rights advocates are determined to get rid of the state’s 15-week ban on abortions as well, and make access to reproductive healthcare a constitutionally protected right. Organizers have already gathered more than enough signatures to get a measure on the November 2024 ballot to do just that, and are confident that, should it be added to the ballot, it will be approved by voters.

“Even if—and when—a repeal gets done, people will still be suffering under the 1864 ban for an additional 90 days,” said Arizona for Abortion Access Act spokesperson Dawn Penich. “We see this as insignificant to what we’re trying to do, which is to constitutionally give Arizonans some peace of mind, a restoration of their rights, and so we’ll be continuing unimpeded by this development.”

Author

  • Camaron Stevenson

    Camaron is the Founding Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for The Copper Courier, and has worked as a journalist in Phoenix for over a decade. He also teaches multimedia journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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