FFRF hails new Ariz. law repealing archaic abortion court ban

Photo by Harrison Mitchell on Unsplash

The Arizona Legislature’s recent vote to repeal a Civil War-era abortion ban revived by the state Supreme Court in early April was welcome news, especially since it came on the same day that Florida’s devastating abortion ban took effect.

Gov. Katie Hobbs has signed the bill only one day after it narrowly passed the Republican-led Senate, describing the repeal as a crucial first step in protecting reproductive rights in Arizona. The law will eventually revert to a 2022 statute permitting the procedure until 15 weeks of pregnancy.

In an unexpected turn, Sen. Shawnna Bolick, who is married to one of the Arizona Supreme Court justices who voted to uphold the 1864 ban, cast one of the Republican votes in favor of repeal. She appeared to support the repeal as the best shot to thwart an expected abortion ballot measure permitting abortion until viability. Her vote was met with religious jeers from the public gallery, including someone who yelled, “One day you will face a just and holy God!”

The religiously motivated opposition to abortion rights was evidenced in speeches by anti-abortion Republican senators, who, according to the New York Times, equated abortions to Nazism, quoted from the bible, “made direct appeals to God from the Senate floor” and called the repeal “an explicit rejection of Christianity.”

“Why can’t we show the nation we are pro-life?” demanded state Sen. Anthony Kern. “We will have the blessing of God over this state if we do that. Our only hope is Jesus Christ.” In a similar vein, anti-abortion advocates Wednesday prayed outside the Arizona Capitol and read scripture over a loudspeaker.

The 1864 law would have returned the state to a near-total abortion ban, with no exceptions for rape or incest victims and jail time penalties for physicians. The only exception found in the draconian ban was to save the life of the pregnant person, a narrow restriction ultimately endangering women and abortion providers.

Unfortunately, the controversial court decision will continue to wreak havoc, as the ban will stand until 90 days after the Legislature takes its summer adjournment. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood Arizona and Arizona’s attorney general are in court seeking to bar implementation of the ban.

Nearly 60 percent of Arizona’s voters believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 91 percent maintain that the 1864 ban went too far. Thankfully, the Arizona Legislature listened to its constituents and moved to protect women and abortion providers after the shocking court decision.

Protection for abortion rights will likely be on Arizona’s ballot in November. Arizona for Abortion Access has reportedly received 500,000 signatures supporting an abortion ballot initiative, well over the 383,923 required. The proposed amendment would enshrine protection for abortion rights in the Arizona Constitution until fetal viability. This is the next step necessary in Arizona to ensure abortion is accessible and secure in a post-Dobbs nation.

An initiative to protect abortion rights will also be on the November ballot in Florida, where a six-week ban went into effect Wednesday, which will not only deny reproductive rights to Floridians but throughout the Southeast, where abortion is uniformly banned. More than 50 abortion clinics in Florida provided around 86,000 abortions a year, with at least 9,000 involving patients from other states. For 6.4 million women, the nearest clinic was in Florida, according to the New York Times. The nearest clinics now will be in Charlotte, N.C., requiring two visits over three days and waiting times of a week or more. Florida’s ballot initiative to protect abortion rights up to about 24 weeks will require more than 60 percent support to pass.

“The Supreme Court is responsible for incalculable chaos, hardship and misery in overturning abortion as a federal right,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “The religious war against abortion rights shows so clearly why religious doctrine should have no place in America’s civil laws and why reproductive freedom must be a federal right.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with 40,000 members and several chapters all over the country. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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