Arizona lawmakers reverse course on Civil War-era abortion ban

Tucson, Arizona - Legislators in Arizona voted Wednesday to repeal an 1864 law that almost completely banned abortion in the battleground state after moderate Republicans broke ranks to side with Democrats.

Legislators in Arizona voted Wednesday to repeal an 1864 law that almost completely banned abortion in the state.
Legislators in Arizona voted Wednesday to repeal an 1864 law that almost completely banned abortion in the state.  © Rebecca Noble / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The 32-29 vote in the Arizona state House of Representatives – the lower chamber – came after repeated attempts to overturn the Civil War-era legislation were foiled by right-wingers in the Republican Party, which holds a majority.

The western state, which is a must-win for both President Joe Biden and his Republican rival Donald Trump in this year's White House race, jumped headlong into the divisive abortion rights debate this month when its supreme court ruled a 160-year-old law was enforceable.

That law, which was drafted long before Arizona became a state and before women had the right to vote, made it a criminal offense for anyone to carry out an abortion and allowed for prison sentences of up to five years for anyone convicted.

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It made no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the woman carrying the fetus.

The Arizona Senate, where Republicans also hold a majority, voted last week in favor of introducing a bill that would repeal the law, with moderates joining the Democratic side.

The bill will have to go through three readings in the upper chamber before it can become law, a process expected to take several weeks.

Cover photo: Rebecca Noble / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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