Arizona's total abortion ban on its way out after state Senate votes to repeal 1864 law

Tucson, Arizona - Legislators in Arizona's state Senate voted Wednesday to repeal an 1864 law banning abortion, a month after the state's supreme court said the Civil War-era rule was valid.

The Arizona state Senate voted to repeal a 1864 law that banned all abortions, which had been previously confirmed as valid by the state Supreme Court.
The Arizona state Senate voted to repeal a 1864 law that banned all abortions, which had been previously confirmed as valid by the state Supreme Court.  © REUTERS

The turnaround was the latest development in the fraught US abortion debate, which is expected to play a huge role in this year's presidential election, a likely rematch between President Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

"I'm glad to see the Senate answered my call and voted to repeal the 1864 total abortion ban," the state's Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs wrote on social media.

"While this is essential to protecting women's health, it is just the beginning. I will never stop fighting for women's reproductive freedoms."

Another mysterious monolith found in Nevada desert
Mystery Another mysterious monolith found in Nevada desert

After Hobbs officially signs the repeal into law, abortion will be legal in Arizona up to the 15th week of pregnancy.

Arizona law at the center of abortion debate

Arizona's Supreme Court ruled in April that the state had to revert to the 1864 law after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Arizona's Supreme Court ruled in April that the state had to revert to the 1864 law after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.  © REUTERS

Arizona became the epicenter of the abortion rights debate last month when its supreme court ruled a previously obscure 160-year-old law was enforceable.

That law, which was drafted long before Arizona became a state and women had the right to vote – and slavery was still legal – 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.

It made no exceptions for rape or incest.

Ukraine slams North Korea's support for Russia's "mass murder" of civilians
Ukraine conflict Ukraine slams North Korea's support for Russia's "mass murder" of civilians

The court ruled that because the state had never legislated for the right to abortion, its practice of allowing terminations up to the 15-week mark had been underpinned only by the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling by the US Supreme Court that had guaranteed reproductive freedoms across the country.

When the conservative-dominated court overturned that half-century-old ruling in 2022, Arizona had to revert to its original statutes, the state's court ruled.

Republican leaders nationally had called on the state to moderate the ban, with Trump insisting it had gone "too far." But Arizona GOP members were unmoved, and the majority of the local party staunchly opposed any change.

After several attempts by Democrats, the state's House of Representatives succeeded last week when three moderate Republicans crossed the aisle. That was repeated in the senate on Wednesday when two of them abandoned their conservative colleagues to give the motion a 16-14 majority.

Cover photo: REUTERS

More on Abortion Rights: