Arizona House votes to repeal law protecting life from moment of conception

Arizona abortion Pro-life advocates demonstrate prior to an Arizona House of Representatives session at the Arizona State Capitol on April 17, 2024, in Phoenix. | Credit: Rebecca Noble/Getty Images

The Arizona House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to repeal a law protecting unborn babies from abortion throughout pregnancy.

The narrow 32-28 vote passed an “abortion ban repeal” bill designed to overturn the pro-life law. Republicans have a narrow majority in the Arizona House, but the bill was able to pass as three Republicans joined the Democrats against the pro-life measure.

The repeal bill will now be considered by the Arizona Senate where Republicans also hold a narrow 16-14 majority. Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs has already signaled she will sign the bill into law if it is passed by the Arizona Senate.

Even if the repeal bill is signed into law it will likely not go into effect until 90 days after the legislative session closes, meaning the pro-life law may be in effect for a short time. The pro-life measure is currently set to go into effect on June 8.

This comes after Democrats launched several unsuccessful attempts to repeal the pro-life law after a controversial Arizona Supreme Court decision ruled that the law — passed in 1864 — could go into effect.

Dormant since being invalidated by Roe v. Wade in 1973, the 1864 law protects all unborn life from conception and imposes prison time for those who “provide, supply, or administer” an abortion. The court ruled that since the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe in the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson decision, there were no legal reasons to keep the law from being enforced.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden criticized the Arizona pro-life law as backward, blaming former President Donald Trump for the Supreme Court overturning Roe and “literally taking us back 160 years.” 

Abortion is currently legal in Arizona until the 15th week of pregnancy. If the 1864 law takes effect, however, all abortion will be illegal, except in cases in which the mother’s life is in danger.

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