Arizona Governor Signs Bill To Repeal Abortion Ban

Arizona Governor Signs Bill To Repeal Abortion Ban

( – Lawmakers in Arizona have officially repealed a territorial ban on abortions that automatically became enforceable after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. On May 1, the state’s Senate voted 16 to 14 in favor of overturning the nearly 160-year-old law, which was set to go into effect in June.

Governor Katie Hobbs (D-AZ) officially signed the bill, overturning the law the following day. However, she also warned that it would not go into effect until June or July. State regulations require a waiting period of at least 90 days after the end of the current legislative session.

Arizona’s original abortion ban dates back to 1864 when the area still fell within New Mexico Territory. It outlawed abortions without exception. The deeply controversial legislation also instituted severe penalties for any doctor who performed the procedure, even with the mother’s permission.

That same territorial ban stayed on the books until Roe v. Wade triggered the creation of federal protections, nullifying its enforcement in 1973. But it was never removed from Arizona’s code; instead, it simply went dormant.

That block ceased to exist once the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. The fact that the older territorial ban was only blocked, rather than fully repealed, left Arizona’s highest court with no choice but to reinstate the enforcement of its provisions.

News of the change immediately inspired criticism and complaints. Pro-choice activists argued that it would place pregnant mothers at risk and leave doctors unable to decide how to proceed in emergency cases. Anti-abortion advocates, however, saw the shift back to a more restrictive approach as a win.

The 90-day waiting period means Arizona could choose to begin enforcing the territorial ban temporarily after it’s set to take effect.

Arizona is ultimately expected to keep a more recent law restricting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy in place. While it does make allowances for cases where doctors believe there is a clear risk to the mother’s life or bodily functions, it, too, lacks any other exceptions.

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