Arizona governor Katie Hobbs signs measure to repeal 1864 abortion ban law

The governor of the state of Arizona, USA, has sought to repeal an archaic abortion law created in 1864, by signing a measure to repeal an almost total ban on terminating a pregnancy. After the furore of The Supreme Court overturning the landmark 1973 abortion case Roe v Wade in 2022, the debate of whether abortion should be criminalized has dominated headlines and sparked controversy on the subject worldwide, as women in the US were stripped of their constitutional rights when choosing to end an unwanted pregnancy. 

On Thursday, Arizona governor Katie Hobbs signed a measure that will repeal the 19th Century law, which was created prior to Arizona becoming a state in 1912. The 1864 doctrine enforces a ban on abortion, excluding circumstances where it is deemed necessary to save a woman’s life. Women who choose to undergo the procedure could face two to five years in prison. In April the Arizona supreme court ruled the ban could be enforced, which was met with outrage. In a 4-2 ruling, the Arizona Supreme Court wrote that because Roe v Wade had been overturned two years ago, the 1864 law, which hasn’t been implemented for over half a century was “enforceable”.

The Republican nominated justices said that the current state legislature had not guaranteed a right to abortion when it had passed a 15-week abortion ban in 2022.

They wrote that ‘Physicians are now on notice that all abortions, except those necessary to save a woman’s life, are illegal.’

Currently, the South Western state allows abortion up to 15 weeks of pregnancy. Hobbs, along with Arizona’s democratic lawmakers have not been able to add an emergency clause into the repeal but legal blockers have been put in place to delay the ban coming into force. The governor’s signature does not prevent the ban from coming into effect, however the sentiment has seen Republicans shifting to join Democratic peers to support the repeal – breaking with the Arizona GOP.

Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma has been reported as saying, “I’m 100% pro-life,I think recent events at the state Capitol have been very clear on where I stand on that issue. So I really don’t have much else to say.” The controversial issue to support a 160-year-old law promises to be make or break in the upcoming November elections.

Planned Parenthood of Arizona announced that, in light of Hobbs’ anticipated signing of the bill, it was filing a legal motion to ask the courts to hold off on enforcing the 1864 ban.

Courts have ruled that the law is on hold for two weeks and have sent the case back to lower courts to hear additional arguments about its constitutionality, in addition to this there is 45-day waiting period before enforcement.

Want to have your say? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more stories

Join nearly 3,000 other family practitioners - Check back daily for all the latest news, views, insights and best practice and sign up to our e-newsletter to receive our weekly round up every Thursday morning. 

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.