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Arizona repeals 1864 abortion law; Florida 6-week ban becomes law


PHOENIX, Ariz. (BP) – The Arizona Legislature repealed May 1 an 1864 abortion ban that would have protected life from conception, but the law could still take effect temporarily during a 90-day waiting period for the repeal to become law.

Arizona’s vote came the same day Florida’s six-week abortion ban became law. The ban, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April 2023, is only now taking effect because of a court challenge. The Florida Supreme Court cleared the way April 1 for its enforcement.

Despite the developments, ballot measures in Arizona and Florida to enshrine abortion rights into the respective state constitutions are expected in November, two of at least 10 states where such ballot measures are being considered.

The Southern Baptist Convention has long opposed abortion, upholding the right to life of the unborn baby.

Arizona’s Repeal

In Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature, five Republicans joined all Democrats in repealing the 1864 law that would have criminalized abortion for providers, expectant mothers and advertisers, with exceptions to save the mother’s life.

Republicans supporting the repeal cited a fear of backlash in November elections and other concerns, while other Republicans continued to oppose the repeal.

The repeal becomes effective 90 days after the end of the legislative session, scheduled to adjourn May 10. During the wait, the 1864 law could become active as early as June 27, but could be delayed further by a related court challenge. Regardless, after the legislative repeal becomes effective, the 15-week ban would return, according to an explanation at Arizona.gov.

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, is expected to sign the repeal as early as May 2.

“Today, I am glad to see the Senate answered my call and voted to repeal Arizona’s 1864 total abortion ban, and I look forward to quickly signing the repeal into law,” Hobbs said after the vote.

Arizona voters are expected to have an opportunity to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution on the November ballot, the work of the Arizona for Abortion Access coalition that has collected more than the number of signatures required to gain a spot on the ballot.

Florida’s six-week ban

While Florida’s Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing Florida’s six-week abortion ban, it also issued a separate ruling that allows the November ballot measure to enshrine abortion in the state’s constitution.

The state’s six-week ban, with exceptions for rape, incest, and to save the mother’s life, is among 27 state bans based on gestational duration, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. Before the ban took effect, Florida allowed abortions until 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Fourteen states protect unborn life through total abortion bans, Guttmacher said, including Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.