Arizona governor’s signing of abortion law repeal follows political fight by women lawmakers

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has signed a repeal of the Civil War-era embargo imposed on nearly all parts of the world. Miscarriage It was an exciting occasion for women working to ensure that 19th century law remained a thing of the past.

Current and former state legislators and reproductive rights advocates crowded into the ninth-floor rotunda outside Hobbs’ office Thursday afternoon, where they hugged and took selfies to capture the moment. Some cried.

“This is a historic moment, a place and time where exciting moments come together,” Democratic Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton said during the signing ceremony. “It is a time when we get rid of what happened in the past that does not fit into the present.”

Stahl and Sen. Ana Hernandez, also a Democrat, were chosen to speak at the ceremony for their efforts to ensure the repeal of the long-awaited law banning all abortions except those performed to save the patient’s life.

Effort It received final legislative approval on Wednesday In a 16-14 vote in the Senate, two GOP lawmakers joined Democrats during a nearly three-hour session in which the motivations for the vote were described in personal, emotional and even biblical terms. There were graphic descriptions of abortion procedures and an amplified sound of the fetus’s heartbeat, along with warnings against “legalizing religious beliefs.”

Advocates of the abortion ban in the Senate gallery mocked Republican state Sen. Shawna Bolick as she explained her vote for repeal, then was rebuked by her GOP colleagues. Bolick is married to state Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick, who voted by majority in April to reinstate the 1864 law. He faces an election to retain it in November.

The House had previously approved the repeal, with three Republicans in that chamber dissenting.

Hobbes says that this step is Just the beginning From the fight to protect reproductive health care in Arizona. The repeal is scheduled to take effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session, which is usually in June or July, once the budget is approved.

“It means everything to get this outdated and inhumane provincial law off the books,” said Dr. Gabrielle Goodrick, founder of Phoenix-based Planned Parenthood Camelback, which performs a third of all abortions in Arizona.

A 2022 law banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy will become the prevailing abortion law in Arizona.

Abortion rights advocates, led by Planned Parenthood of Arizona, have filed a request with the state Supreme Court to block the 1846 law from taking effect before it can be repealed. If denied, girls and women could see abortion services temporarily halted.

The 19th-century law has been outlawed in Arizona since 1973 with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade that guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion nationwide. When the federal law was repealed in 2022, it left Arizona in a legal limbo.

The Arizona Supreme Court last month set the state back decades and reinstated a ban that provides no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest. The judges suggested Doctors can be prosecuted Charged with violating the law, the maximum penalty is five years in prison if convicted.

The anti-abortion group defending the ban, Alliance Defending Freedom, contends that county prosecutors can begin implementing it once the Supreme Court’s decision becomes final, which has not yet happened. Arizona’s Democratic Attorney General, Chris Mayes, is making efforts to delay implementation of the ban until sometime in late July.

Meanwhile, abortion rights advocates are collecting signatures to enshrine reproductive rights in the Arizona Constitution. The proposed ballot measure would allow abortion until the fetus can survive outside the womb, usually about 24 weeks, with exceptions to save the parent’s life or to protect her physical or mental health.

Republican lawmakers are considering putting one or more competing abortion proposals before voters in November.

In other parts of the United States this week, supporters of South Dakota’s abortion rights initiative were largely ahead More signatures than required On the ballot this fall, while a ban in Florida goes into effect against most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many people even know they are pregnant.

President Joe Biden’s campaign team believes the anger caused by the overturn of Roe v. Wade will give them a political advantage in battleground states like Arizona, while the issue has divided Republican leaders.

For the Democratic women who led the repeal effort in Arizona, Thursday was a celebratory moment, but it also showed there is more work to be done, they said.

In an interview before the signing ceremony, Stahl-Hamilton spoke about her early years in the Navajo Nation, where her parents were school teachers and where federally funded clinics still limit abortion services.

She spoke of her sister-in-law who said she had had two difficult pregnancies, one resulting in stillbirth and one non-viable, where “they had to make the heartbreaking decision to terminate that pregnancy, because there was no brain development.”

“I imagine if any of these laws had been implemented during the time she was in need of care, it could have created real chaos,” Stahl-Hamilton said.

When the Civil War-era ban was passed, all 27 legislators were men, America was at war over the right to own slaves and women couldn’t vote, Hobbs said. Now, the Arizona Legislature is split almost evenly between men and women.

Hernandez became involved in politics after her younger brother, Alejandro, was shot dead by police in April 2019. She and her two other brothers have tattoos with his image on their left arms.

She said her sister is a labor and delivery nurse and has two daughters, ages 16 and 12.

“At this moment, I think they can grow up in the state that we love so much and have the rights that they have,” she said.

Former Democratic state Rep. Athena Selman was so overcome with emotion Thursday that she could barely speak when she was called to the podium at the signing ceremony. She proposed repealing the 19th-century law in 2019, three years before Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Salman, who resigned last January to lead an abortion rights group, said she couldn’t stop thinking about her daughters.

“Future generations will not have to live under the restrictions and interventions that we had to experience,” she said.

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