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Arizona House votes to repeal 1864 abortion law, measure now heads to the state Senate

Arizona House passes abortion ban repeal bill
Arizona House advances effort to repeal 1864 near-total abortion ban 02:52

The Republican-controlled Arizona 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 consider the law 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. 

In the contentious session on Wednesday, three Republicans joined all the Democrats in a 32-28 vote to overrule GOP House Speaker Ben Toma, who twice previously blocked the bill from moving forward. Republicans control the chamber by a 31-29 margin.

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.

Arizona state House votes on proposed repeal of 1864 law banning abortion
Arizona state House Speaker Ben Tom, R-Peoria, watches the vote tally on the proposed repeal of Arizona's near-total ban on abortions, April 24, 2024, in Phoenix. Ross D. Franklin / AP

"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."

On Wednesday, Stahl Hamilton said she was "grateful" to Rep. Matt Gress, one of the Republicans who joined the Democrats, for allowing it to come to a vote on Wednesday. 

The law is "one step closer to being repealed," Stahl Hamilton said. The measure now goes to the state Senate. 

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said in a post on X that she was "thrilled the House has finally decided to do the right thing and repeal the archaic 1864 near-total abortion ban," and she called on the Senate to do the same and "send the repeal to my desk. Immediately."

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

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