National News

Arizona House Votes to Repeal State’s 160-Year-Old Ban on Nearly All Abortions

The Arizona Capitol and the executive tower are pictured in Phoenix April 11, 2024. Arizona’s Republican-controlled House voted April 24 to repeal the state’s 1864 law banning abortion that was recently upheld by that state’s Supreme Court. (Photo: OSV News /Bob Roller)

WASHINGTON — Arizona House legislators voted April 24 to repeal the state’s 1864 ban on nearly all abortions which the state Supreme Court let stand on April 9.

The 160-year-old state abortion law, if not repealed, can be enforced by June 8. It carries a sentence of two to five years in prison for doctors or anyone else who assists in an abortion. The only exception is when the mother’s life is in danger.

The vote of 32-28 to repeal this law included the votes of three Republicans. The bill now heads to the state Senate where it could be taken up next week. The repeal would take effect 90 days after the legislative session ends, sometime before June 30.

About a week after the Arizona Supreme Court let the 1864 law stand, Democratic state legislators moved to repeal it but failed to get enough support from Republican legislators and said they would keep trying.

The issue is likely to be put directly before voters in November’s election as the Arizona for Abortion Access campaign has been working to get a potential constitutional amendment on the state’s ballot to ensure that access to abortion is protected.

The Arizona bishops who said they were pleased with the court’s ruling to continue the 1864 law, also expressed concern that Arizonans might vote for an amendment that would not only undo the ban but be even far reaching.

In an April 9 statement issued by the Arizona Catholic Conference, the state’s bishops said they were aware that a “pro-abortion initiative is being circulated that, if approved by voters, will ultimately dictate Arizona law in this regard.”

If the ballot initiative secures enough votes, it would amend Arizona’s constitution to prohibit the state from legislating against abortion up until fetal viability, around 24 weeks into a pregnancy, and would also place other abortion protections into law.

The bishops said the proposed initiative would “likely remove most safeguards for girls and women that are currently in place at abortion clinics, permit a minor to obtain an abortion without parental involvement or permission, and allow for painful late-term abortions of viable preborn children.” 

“We do not believe that this extreme initiative is what Arizona wants or needs, and we continue to pray that it does not succeed,” they said.