Arizona Repeals Pre-Roe Pro-Life Law

(Oregon Right to Life) — The Democratic governor of Arizona on Thursday signed a bill to repeal the state’s 1864 pro-life law limiting nearly all abortions. The move comes just weeks after the state’s Supreme Court decided that the dormant pro-life measure could take effect.

On April 9, the Arizona state Supreme Court ruled that officials could once again enforce Arizona’s pre-Roe v. Wade law protecting nearly all unborn babies and permitting the prosecution of abortionists.

The ruling was met with praise from pro-life advocates and organizations. Among many others, Live Action president and founder Lila Rose called the decision an “amazing win for human rights and children’s lives.” Pro-life author and speaker Abby Johnson similarly celebrated the decision and its capacity to save many thousands of unborn lives.

READ: Arizona Supreme Court Allows Law to Take Effect Protecting Nearly All Unborn Babies

However, others pushed back on the Arizona high court’s decision, including former U.S. President Donald Trump. When asked to weigh in on the ruling, Trump said at the time that the Arizona Supreme Court had gone “too far” and that its decision needed to be “straightened out.”

On April 22, three Republicans and all 29 Democrats in the Arizona House of Representatives voted on a bill to repeal the 1864 measure, the Associated Press reported. The state Senate also voted to repeal the law, with two Republicans joining all Democrats in the move.

The bill then landed on the desk of Gov. Katie Hobbs, who signed it last week. The measure will take effect in 90 days. In the interim, the state attorney general has declared that she is “exploring every option available to prevent this outrageous 160-year-old law from ever taking effect.”

In a press conference, Gov. Hobbs argued that the expansive pro-life law was “draconian,” describing its defenders as “extreme politicians.”

However, pro-life groups have noted that Arizona’s 1864 law could have saved more than 10,000 unborn lives every year. 

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“We mourn for the loss of the children who would have been protected, and the mothers who would have received life-affirming help to address their holistic needs, under Arizona’s strongest pro-life law,” Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America president and founder Marjorie Dannenfelser said in an April 24 press release. 

She went on to warn pro-life Arizonans about an imminent ballot proposal that would enshrine a “right”’ to abortion in the state constitution. Similar ballot measures have been proposed and approved in a group of states nationwide since the rollback of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022. Meanwhile, other states have moved to enact pro-life legislation in the lead-up to and in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision. 

Arizona is among the states to have passed new legislation protecting unborn lives in recent years. Shortly before the overturning of Roe, Arizona passed a law limiting abortions after 15 weeks gestation. 

However, following the repeal of the stronger 1864 law, Dannenfelser suggested that the 15-week ban is the next target for opponents of pro-life protections.

“Between now and November, the far Left and pro-abortion forces will spend tens of millions of dollars to muddy the waters, fearmonger, and sow confusion to advance an extreme abortion agenda,” she said. “Their goal is to repeal Arizona’s 15-week abortion law and replace it with a constitutional amendment that would allow unlimited painful late-term abortions in the fifth, sixth, seventh month of pregnancy and beyond.”

Dannenfelser called on pro-life legislators to “bring clarity to Arizona voters by campaigning vigorously in support of Arizona’s 15-week protection with exceptions and in opposition to the extreme no-limits abortion amendment.”

Written by Ashley Sadler, communications director for Oregon Right to Life.

Oregon Right to Life believes in the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death. Abortion ends the life of a genetically distinct, growing human being. We oppose abortion at any point of gestation. Read this and all of our position statements here.


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