Arizona House advances a repeal of the state’s near-total abortion ban to the Senate

Arizona Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, D-Tucson, left, gets a hug from Sen. Anna Hernandez, D-Phoenix, after the vote tally on the proposed repeal of Arizona's near-total ban on abortions winning approval from the state House Wednesday in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — A proposed repeal of Arizona’s near-total ban on abortions won approval from the state House Wednesday after two weeks of mounting pressure on Republicans over an issue that has bedeviled former President Donald Trump’s campaign to return to the White House.

Three Republicans joined in with all 29 Democrats Wednesday to repeal a law that predated Arizona’s statehood and provides no exceptions for rape or incest. If the Senate approves as expected, Arizona would allow abortions up to 15 weeks.


Their political ambitions imperiled by widespread opposition to a near-total abortion ban, Trump and U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake had urged Arizona lawmakers to ease the restrictions. But until Wednesday, most state House Republicans repeatedly used procedural votes to block repeal, each time drawing condemnation from Democratic President Joe Biden, who has made his support for abortion rights central to his reelection campaign.

“Make no mistake, Arizonans are living in 1864 now because Donald Trump dismantled Roe v. Wade,” Democratic state Sen. Priya Sundareshan of Tucson said in a news conference before the vote organized by the Biden campaign and the Arizona Democratic Party.

The repeal vote comes a day after Biden said Trump created a “health care crisis for women all over this country,” by imperiling their access to care. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the vote is a sign that “we’re moving forward in the right direction.”

Arizona is one of a handful of battleground states that will decide the next president. Trump, who has warned that the issue could lead to Republican losses, has avoided endorsing a national abortion ban but said he’s proud to have appointed the Supreme Court justices who allowed states to outlaw it.

Dozens of people gathered outside the state Capitol before the House and Senate were scheduled to meet, then filled seats in the public gallery as lawmakers voted, many of them carrying signs or wearing shirts showing their opposition to abortion rights.

Arizona Republicans have been under intense pressure from some conservatives in their base, who firmly support the abortion ban, even as it’s become a liability with swing voters who will decide crucial races including the presidency, the U.S. Senate and the GOP’s control of the Legislature.

“I am disgusted today,” said Republican Rep. Rachel Jones, who voted against repeal. “Life is one of the tenets of our Republican platform. To see people go back on that value is egregious to me.”

State Rep. Matt Gress, one of the three Republicans who crossed party lines to support the repeal measure, said in a statement that the near-total abortion ban was “unworkable and out of line with the values of Arizonans.” GOP Rep. Tim Dunn said counterintuitively that his vote in favor of repeal was “the most pro-life vote I could possibly make” because, he said, backlash to the total ban would lead voters to support abortion even after 15 weeks.

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