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AZ House Republicans block Dems from repealing Civil War-era abortion ban

The GOP contends any change would be rushed, Dems contend they've been making attempts to repeal for years
Posted at 5:09 PM, Apr 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-17 20:09:00-04

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Arizona House reconvened today amidst a heated debate over the 1864 ban on nearly all abortions, following a recent ruling by the state supreme court.

The decision allows enforcement of the Civil War-era law to resume around June, except in cases where the mother's life is at risk.

Democrats in the House made another attempt to introduce a bill to repeal the controversial law, but faced strong opposition from Republicans who raised procedural concerns.

House Speaker Ben Toma, a Republican, emphasized the need for a thorough legislative process.

"The last thing we should be doing today is rushing a bill through the legislative process to repeal a law that has been reaffirmed by the legislature several times," he said.

In response, Democrats like Representative Alma Hernandez argued that the 1864 law is outdated and does not reflect the rights and values of modern society.

Hernandez criticized the antiquated nature of the law, highlighting that it was enacted before Arizona even became a state and before women had secured many basic rights.

"The fact that we will not even entertain a motion to allow those who have been raped or are pregnant by incest to be able to have an abortion is extremely, extremely disappointing.

Despite Democrats' efforts, the House adjourned without discussing the repeal of the near-total abortion ban.

The Senate, however, has paved the way for a potential vote on the issue in the coming weeks, with a slim margin of 16-14 in favor of moving forward.

The ongoing debate in Arizona reflects the deep divisions within the state over abortion rights. Both sides are gearing up for a prolonged battle, as the fate of the 1864 ban hangs in the balance. With tensions running high and razor-thin margins in both chambers, the future of abortion laws in Arizona remains uncertain.

RELATED: What does Arizona's proposed abortion amendment say?

Eddie Celaya is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9. Born in Tucson and raised in the Phoenix area, Eddie is a life-long Arizonan and graduate of the University of Arizona who loves the desert and mountains and hates the cold. Previously, Eddie worked in print media at the Arizona Daily Star. Share your story ideas with Eddie at, or by connecting on Facebook or Instagram.