Senate kick-starts Arizona abortion ban repeal after House Republicans block similar bill

Arizona House Republicans blocked two attempts to repeal an almost total abortion ban dating back to 1864 on Wednesday.

The Arizona Senate, however, voted with Democrats and Republicans to start the legislative process needed to repeal the abortion ban.

The House’s action was ordered and based on procedural motions. But the outcome was clear: Most House Republicans were not interested in nullifying the law, which was revived by the state Supreme Court last week with a 4-2 decision.

Rep. Matt Gress, of Phoenix, was the lone Republican to support the Democratic Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton’s motion for a repeal. Without another Republican, repeal supporters did not have the 31 votes needed to overcome the objections of House Speaker Ben Toma.


In the Senate however, Republicans Ken Bennett from Prescott, T.J. Shope from Coolidge, and Shawnna Bolick of Phoenix, joined Democrats in rejecting three GOP attempts at shutting down a vote on introducing a repeal measure. Bolick and Shope voted then with Democrats to introduce a repeal bill.

The Senate Bill 1734 received its first reading on Wednesday. The bill is still in the process of being passed through the legislature. According to the state constitution, new bills must be heard in each chamber of the legislature on three different days unless it is approved by two-thirds of lawmakers.

House deadlock on abortion repeal preserves GOP control

House Democrats have vowed to continue their repeal efforts.

Lupe Contreras of Avondale, the House Minority Leader and Rep. Lupe Contreras from Avondale said: “This will not go away.” “We will bring it back again.”

Stahl Hamilton, a Tucson Democrat and sponsor of House Bill 2677 predicted that Republicans will pay a heavy price this year if they continue to refuse a repeal vote.

She said that Democrats would “definitely flip the Legislature” in order to take control of the Republican-controlled legislature.

The 1864 law prohibits abortions in any stage of pregnancy. Only the life of the mother is exempted. Anyone who assists in an abortion could be sentenced to three to five years behind bars.

Stahl Hamilton admitted that the failure to repeal the law may be politically advantageous but she regretted that it did nothing to protect pregnant woman and health care professionals.

The session on Wednesday was in stark contrast to the week before, when Democrats shouted “shame” at their GOP counterparts.

Toma condemned these actions and called on lawmakers not to repeat them.

He said: “I ask everyone to respect that some of us think abortion is murder.” “It’s not OK for people to yell at each other or behave in the way I saw last week on this floor.”

He defended court ruling and urged lawmakers not to repeal it.

He said, “The last thing that we should do today is repeal a law which has been passed and reaffirmed several times by the Legislature.”

Democrats argued HB 2677 should be voted on.

This issue is simple, Assistant House Minority leader Oscar de los Santos of Phoenix, D, said. Do we support or oppose a 1864 territorial ban on abortion?

The answer is “no” twice.

Rep. Alma Hernandez (D-Tucson) tried again after the first failed attempt. She claimed that Republicans constantly play with rules to prevent Democrats from having their bills heard. She reminded legislators of the consequences of actions.

Hernandez stated that there are many people who are watching Arizona’s actions and that it is shocking that they have not considered a bill to protect rape victim.

The Democrats had hoped that Rep. David Cook would support the repeal motion. The Globe Republican stayed with his caucus.

Cook stated, “I have never rolled either my leadership or speaker.”

He said that he supported a repeal but that it had to be done in “the right manner” and that waiving rules wasn’t appropriate.

Abortion opponents fill House Gallery

The actions of Wednesday were performed in front of a House gallery full with supporters for Arizona Right to Life.

Bob Pamplin, Mesa, said that he wants to see Republicans standing up for the unborn regardless of political consequences.

He said: “I will support life, and I believe that elected officials who say they are pro-life should also do that. They shouldn’t just stick their finger up in the air to see which direction the wind blows.”

Michael “Mike Check”, another abortion opponent, wore a shirt with the words: “Democrats invented abortion to control black populations.”

He said that he was against a repeal of 1864’s law, and hoped Republican legislators would choose unborn babies over “votes.”

He still thinks that the abortion ban could be “tinkered with.”

Rogers stated, “I do not like doctors spending two or three years in prison.” Rogers said, “I don’t believe we need to get rid the entire law to remove those bad branches.”

One person in the audience heckled Gress when he told reporters that he still believed a repeal could happen if the measure was brought to a vote by supporters.

One man shouted in the audience, “Hey Gress! When are you going register as a Democrat?” “Traitor.”

Cathi Herrod is the president of the Center for Arizona Policy. She said that she was “pleasantly shocked” by the failure of Gress’ and the Democrats repeal attempt. She said she expects another repeal attempt to be made soon.

Last week, the 1864 law made national headlines when it was reinstated by a decision of the state Supreme Court. The next day, Republicans blocked attempts to repeal the law immediately, which sparked loud protests by Democrats.

Arizona’s Capitol has been visited by national media because of this ruling and the significance of abortion in the upcoming national election.

Stahl Hamilton presented HB 2677 in the beginning of this year. The bill never received a hearing in committee, but could be put to a vote at the end if it receives enough support. The bill is “a clean repeal” of a 160-year-old measure, which means it removes abortion from the books without adding any new laws.

Pro-abortion and anti-abortion supporters gather outside Capitol

Around 100 people gathered early on Wednesday outside the Capitol for a Right for Life rally to remind GOP legislators who may have wavered and supported the repeal of their views. They asked lawmakers to “stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves” by passing out yellow plastic flowers and red rosebuds.

A few state legislators were also present, along with former Congressmen Matt Salmon, and Trent Franks who is running for re-election to Congress in this year.

Micah Killough