May 26, 2024

Two Arizona Republican state senators crossed party lines on Wednesday to repeal the so-called “1864 abortion ban,” an antedated law that had become a major campaign issue mobilizing abortion activists in the critical swing state and across the nation.

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The repeal bill passed 16-14 in the Arizona State Senate, which is currently controlled by the GOP. However, two Republican state senators, T.J. Shope and Shawnna Bolick, joined with Democrats to force the bill to a floor vote, and ultimately, to repeal the law.

Bolick argued that the passage of the repeal vote could ultimately help protect babies in the future by helping to safeguard less stringent anti-abortion measures.

“We should be pushing for the maximum protection for unborn children that can be sustained,” she said. “I side with saving more babies’ lives.”

Anti-abortion activists shouted angrily: “Come on!” and “This is a disgrace!,” and “One day you will face a just and holy God!”

Gov. Katie Hobbs is expected to sign the bill into law.

As reported by the New York Times, the state’s abortion ban had become a central issue in the Democratic Party’s efforts to salvage single-issue voters with the party facing major political headwinds on the economy and immigration ahead of the 2024 election.

In the Times‘ story linked above, the publication noted:

“The issue has galvanized Democratic voters and energized a campaign to put an abortion-rights ballot measure before Arizona voters in November. On the right, it created a rift between anti-abortion activists who want to keep the law in place and Republican politicians who worry about the political backlash that could be prompted by support of a near-total abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest.”

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In Arizona, the state’s top court upheld an 1864 law banning nearly all abortions. As the New York Times succinctly put it:

Nowhere are the politics of abortion more distilled than in Arizona, where liberal advocates have been pushing for a ballot measure in November that would enshrine abortion rights in the State Constitution. Supporters of the measure say they have already gathered enough signatures to put the question on the ballot ahead of a deadline in early July.

That means the state is likely to be front and center in a national push by Democrats to transform the 2024 race into another referendum on abortion rights.”

Vice President Kamala Harris in April had traveled to Arizona for the express purpose of berating former President Donald Trump on the state’s strict abortion law. Trump-appointed Supreme Court justices were responsible for clearing the pathway to strict abortion laws with the Dobbs ruling.

Donald Trump, however, has said that he supports state’s rights on the abortion issue, frustrating political opponents who had sought to paint him as an ‘anti-abortion hardliner.’

The White House even put out a statement in the wake of the Arizona law being upheld by the state supreme court:

“Millions of Arizonans will soon live under an even more extreme and dangerous abortion ban, which fails to protect women even when their health is at risk or in tragic cases of rape or incest. This cruel ban was first enacted in 1864—more than 150 years ago, before Arizona was even a state and well before women had secured the right to vote. This ruling is a result of the extreme agenda of Republican elected officials who are committed to ripping away women’s freedom.”

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President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign launched a media blitz revolving around Arizona’s abortion laws, including a 7-figure ad buy. Those ads are now likely to become irrelevant in the wake of the state’s 1864 law repeal.

After the effective repeal of Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, the pro-abortion left rallied to find state laws that represented a “worst case scenario” for young voters who may someday seek abortions for unwanted pregnancies.

One particularly egregious case of fearmongering came with a campaign ad about Tennessee’s own strict abortion law.

“Alabama’s abortion ban has no exceptions for rape or incest,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom remarked on X. “Now, Republicans are trying to criminalize young women’s travel to receive abortion care. We cannot let them get away with this.”

In mid-April, the Wall Street Journal released a poll showing that abortion was “the number one issue—by far—for suburban women voters in swing states.”

As the Brookings Institute noted, there were two swing states where turnout on the abortion issue could significantly boost President Biden’s election prospects.

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Those two states? Florida and Arizona.

This is a developing story. RedState will bring you further updates as they become available.


Related: Arizona House Democrats Start Process of Repealing State’s Abortion Law. Three Republicans Lend a Hand.

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