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Arizona scraps 1864 abortion ban

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The U.S. state of Arizona has scrapped a near-total abortion ban from 1864.
The U.S. state of Arizona has scrapped a near-total abortion ban from 1864.

The U.S. state of Arizona has scrapped a near-total abortion ban from 1864.

Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs signed the reform into law overnight after politicians – including some Republicans – voted in favour of the change.

It means the state will return to a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Here’s what you need to know.

Arizona’s 1864 abortion ban

A law passed in 1864 – during the American Civil War when Abraham Lincoln was president – banned medical professionals from providing abortions.

It carried a two to five-year jail sentence.

There were no exemptions for rape or incest, but abortions were permitted for life-threatening pregnancies.

In 1973, the law was nullified by the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which protected the right to abortion across the U.S.

In 2022, the Court overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing states to make their own abortion laws. The 1864 law was never formally abolished.

Reproductive healthcare non-profit Planned Parenthood launched a legal challenge against the ban in Arizona, which reached the state’s Supreme Court earlier this year.

The Court found the near-total ban could be enforced.

Repeal

Arizona’s state legislature (Parliament) introduced legislation to repeal the 1864 ban in January.

The Republican party has a majority in both the lower and upper houses.

The repeal passed both houses with the support of all Democrats and some Republicans.

It was signed into law on Thursday, local time, by the state’s Governor.

Response

Governor Hobbs welcomed the reforms, saying a total abortion ban “would have jailed doctors, threatened the lives of women… and stripped millions of Arizonans of their bodily autonomy”.

Republican Matt Gress, who also voted to scrap the 1864 law, said he was “grateful to [his] Senate colleagues” for agreeing to repeal it.

Opposition

Some Republicans expressed outrage over the law being overturned.

Republican Senator Wendy Rogers defended efforts to keep the original ban, saying: “Life in 1864 was no different than life in 2024”.

Another Republican, Jake Hoffman, described the 1864 law as one of the “best, strongest, pro-life measures in the country”.

Next steps

Shortly after the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision, Arizona passed a law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

This legislation is expected to replace the 1864 ban.

The repeal will take effect by 1 August.

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