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Arizona Senate passes repeal of 1864 abortion ban, sending it to governor’s desk

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(PHOENIX) — The Arizona Senate on Wednesday voted to repeal a strict, Civil War-era abortion ban that was recently ruled enforceable by the state Supreme Court.

Two Republican senators, T.J. Shope and Shawnna Bolick, joined the 14 Democrats in the minority and the bill passed 16-14, over vocal GOP objection.

Ahead of her vote, Bolick took a broadly anti-abortion position on the floor — explaining in detail the three difficult pregnancies she had herself, including the story of her own miscarriage — but she voted with Democrats, suggesting the repeal of the stricter ban might weaken support for a Democratic-led ballot initiative in November to broaden abortion access further.

“Very little legislation written and signed into law is ever perfect. Until we have a better choice in this matter, I side with saving more babies’ lives,” Bolick said.

State Sen. Jake Hoffman, a Republican and outspoken opponent of appeal, lambasted his colleagues who didn’t vote with him or most of their party.

“What’s happening right here today is Republicans are abandoning the Founding Fathers’ principles or Republican Party platforms and principles to join with Democrats. … It is disgusting that is the state of the Republican Party today,” he said.

But Democrats who have pushed in recent weeks to undo the ban celebrated the successful vote in the Legislature.

“This was a historic and consequential vote …. But I’m more relieved for the people of Arizona who will not have their lives and private medical decisions subjected to this brutal and archaic law,” state Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton said in a statement.

State Sen. Anna Hernandez echoed that, saying in her own statement, “The Republican leadership in Arizona has shown that they are unwavering in their desire to strip us of our rights, our voices, and our vote. Our state has lived under their consistent lack of accountability and transparency for too long—the fight for abortion rights has simply shown a bright light on how corrupt they have truly become.”

The repeal legislation now heads to Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, who said in a statement soon after the vote that she looks “forward to quickly signing the repeal into law.”

Hobbs said in an interview with ABC News’ Jaclyn Lee that the repeal bill will be on her desk as soon as Thursday and she is confident there will be no attempts to delay the process of enacting it.

“I’m pretty confident that they want to be done with this and get it over with,” she said, referring to Republicans.

After being signed by Hobbs, the bill will then take effect 90 days after the legislative session ends, which must be by June 30. But the 1864 ban goes into effect June 27, meaning that without further court action, there will be a montslong gap in which that restriction is in force before repeal kicks in.

Speaking with ABC News, Hobbs said she is asking the courts to consider the legislative intent from the repeal and ultimately delay the implementation of the 1864 ban.

In her statement, she also called out the pending pro-abortion access ballot measure in November.

“I encourage every Arizonan to make their voices heard,” she said.

PArizona is a key swing state that has the potential to tip the balance of political power come November. Democrats see abortion as a galvanizing issue.

“This is something that is motivating voters up and down the ballot because Arizonans are outraged about the government and politicians in their personal health care decisions,” Hobbs told ABC News.

She also singled out efforts by some anti-abortion conservatives, like Trump, to stake out what she claimed was an insincere position now.

“The former president got exactly what he wanted. He bragged about creating the Supreme Court that that made the Dobbs decision and overturn Roe [v. Wade] and he celebrated the Dobbs decision and many lawmakers here in Arizona who voted for our 2022 ban also celebrated the Dobbs decision,” she said, adding, “So all of their comments now is just nothing but political opportunism.”

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