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Arizona abortion ban repeal signed by Gov. Katie Hobbs, but 1864 law will linger for months. What's next?

Stacey Barchenger and Ray Stern, Arizona Republic | May 16, 2024 | original article

 

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs on Thursday signed into law a repeal of the state's 160-year-old abortion ban, rescinding one of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws after weeks of hard-fought political negotiation at the state Capitol.


“Today we are doing what 23 governors and 55 legislatures refused to do, and I am so proud to be the ones that got this job done,” Hobbs said, reaffirming in brief remarks that she would “do everything in my power to protect our reproductive freedoms, because I trust women to make the decisions that are best for them.”


About 30 Democratic lawmakers and abortion rights advocates from Planned Parenthood and other groups stood beside the governor as she signed the bill at her office at the Capitol complex.


But neither the governor's signature, nor the Arizona Legislature's momentous decision Wednesday to repeal the ban, will bring stability right away to a policy area that has been in flux — and a subject of intense political debate — for nearly two years. The Arizona Supreme Court renewed that uncertainty with its high-profile decision in April upholding the Civil War-era abortion policy.


The governor's signature does not mean the ban goes away immediately. That could be months away, but once it is officially repealed, a 2022 law that prohibits most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy will become effective.


The law allows abortions after 15 weeks if the pregnancy creates life-threatening conditions or "serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function," but does not include exceptions for rape or incest.


Just moments after the repeal vote became official, Planned Parenthood Arizona announced it had asked the Arizona Supreme Court to delay enforcement of the 1864 ban. A day earlier, Attorney General Kris Mayes offered another legal avenue to delay enforcement.


Yet with those efforts unsettled, the state could return to the confusion of 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and no one could say with certainty which abortion law governed Arizonans.

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