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The abortion law of 1864 is officially repealed, but it is not yet known when it will come into force

With the stroke of a pen Thursday, Gov. Katie Hobbs overturned a near-total ban on abortion that had been in place for 160 years.

Just one day before, Democrats in the state Senate managed to get enough Republican votes to repeal an abortion ban first passed in 1864., while Arizona was still a territory. The pressure to repeal it came after The state Supreme Court ruled it was once again enforceable.and Hobbs’ signature ended weeks of turmoil as the Republican-majority legislature grappled with the political fallout.

“Today we are doing what 23 governors and 55 legislatures refused to do and I am very proud to be the ones who did this work,” she said shortly before signing the bill, referring to the number of governors before her and previous legislatures. .

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The Democrat, who made a campaign promise to repeal the 1864 law and was a strong supporter of the movement to do so this month, said the threat of the law’s reimplementation had sparked concern across the state.

“I’ve heard from doctors who weren’t sure if they would end up in a cell simply for doing their job, and from women who told me they didn’t know if it was safe to start a family here in Arizona,” she said.

The Civil War-era law carries a mandatory prison sentence of 2 to 5 years for doctors who perform an abortion for any reason other than saving a woman’s life.

But while Hobbs’ approval removes that threat from state law, he noted that access to abortion is still not guaranteed. With the repeal of the 1864 law, a 2022 law banning abortions after 15 weeks takes priority.

That law prohibits abortions beyond the due date of gestation unless the woman faces permanent injury or life-threatening medical complications. Doctors who violate its provisions are subject to a class 6 felony and revocation of their licenses. It does not include exceptions for rape or incest, and reproductive rights advocates have sounded the alarm about what they see as insufficient protections for women facing pregnancy complications; In other states with similarly restrictive laws, doctors have reported delaying care as long as possible to avoid criminalization, leading to worse health outcomes for their patients.

And while the repeal of the 1864 law is now complete, it won’t go into effect until months after the state Supreme Court rules it can be enforced on June 27. This is because bills signed by the governor do not take effect until after 90 days. after the end of the legislative session, and with the state budget still under negotiation, that probably won’t happen for several weeks yet, pushing the repeal’s effective date until the fall at the earliest.

On Thursday, Hobbs told reporters that his office and legislative leadership are still working on the budget, and said he hopes a final plan will be reached “soon,” but that he did not expand beyond that.

In response to the conflicting timelines, Democrats and abortion advocacy groups have tried to use legal maneuvers to delay reimplementation of the 1864 law until the repeal can take effect. Earlier this week, a day before the repeal was successful, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes filed a motion with the state Supreme Court requesting a 90-day stay as his office explored the possibility of appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And hours after the state Senate passed the repeal bill, Planned Parenthood Arizona, the state’s largest abortion provider, filed a motion asking the state Supreme Court to delay its ruling in light of the action of the legislator. The Arizona Supreme Court ordered the parties in the case to present arguments on whether to approve a delay by next week.

Senator Anna Hernández, who helped force a vote on the repeal bill in the upper chamber, said the only way to ensure that abortion is protected in the long term is to codify it as a constitutional right. Arizona voters are likely to see a proposal in November to do just that. The Arizona Abortion Access Law, which has already been exceeded your signature requirement threshold to qualify for the ballot, it would safeguard access up to the point of fetal viability, generally considered 24 weeks, and includes exceptions for abortions performed beyond that point.

“One thing is very clear: our rights are not protected unless they are enshrined in the Arizona State Constitution,” the Phoenix Democrat said.

Hernández noted that the vast majority of Republicans in the state legislature (42 of 47) supported keeping the 1864 law in effect, and a A plan has already emerged to thwart the pro-abortion initiative with competing proposals.. He said Republicans cannot be trusted to safeguard reproductive rights.

“Our ability to celebrate this moment goes hand in hand with the reality that repealing this ban today does not mean we will be safe tomorrow,” he said. “Tomorrow we could see the majority party table a motion that would reduce the ban from 15 weeks to 9 or even 6 weeks. Arizonans cannot trust this body to follow the will of the majority of Arizona voters.”

Arizona Democrats are counting on the abortion rights furor to mobilize voters in November and give the party a legislative majority for the first time in decades.

“The Republican leadership in Arizona has proven that it is unwavering in its desire to strip us of our rights, our voices and our votes,” Hernandez said.

But while some Republicans made strategic decisions to support a repeal of the law in hopes of curbing the impact of the abortion issue in November, Democratic lawmakers said Thursday they remain confident Arizonans will go to the polls.

A ban on abortion at 15 weeks is not as popular with voters as a near-total ban, according to Rep. Stephanie Stahl-Hamilton, who sponsored the repeal bill.

“An attack on freedom is simply that, an attack on freedom. “Reproductive health care must be available to all patients at all times without fear of criminalization,” the Tucson Democrat said.

“You cannot dictate or determine when a pregnancy complication will occur,” added Hernández. “And that’s why it’s so important to get the politicians out, get the government out, and let the choice be between that person and their medical provider.”

Athena Salman, director of the Arizona Abortion Campaigns advocacy group Reproductive Freedom for All, was overcome with emotion after the repeal was signed. Through tears, she explained that she was proud of the work done to repeal the law and that she was hopeful for a future in which abortion rights would be guaranteed in Arizona.

“I can’t stop thinking about my daughter,” he said. “And as we move into the future and protect and enshrine the constitutional right to abortion and reproductive freedom, future generations will not have to live under the restrictions and interference that we have had to experience.”