Abortion in Arizona: State lawmakers fail to raise motion to repeal 1864 law

A motion to vote on repealing Arizona's 1864 near-total abortion ban failed in the House on Wednesday.

The totality of the discussion and debate on April 17 centered around House rules and whether a roll call vote would be sufficient. Democratic lawmakers were behind the push to repeal the near-total abortion ban that was at the center of a recent Arizona Supreme Court ruling. Democrats needed each of their 29 members, plus additional Republicans.

Matt Gress was the only Republican to vote with the Democrats on the motion.

Gress said the 160-year-old law doesn’t reflect the values of most people living in the state.

"We need to get that taken care of and get it taken care of as soon as possible," Gress said. "I think the eyes of the nation are on Arizona."

Prior to starting, anti-abortion advocates prayed in the gallery. There was a contentious start, with arguing over the rules and what was permitted. At one point, lawmakers were chided for their behavior and told to hold their comments.

Abortion is top of mind in the state ahead of the November election. A coalition group of abortion rights advocates is backing an initiative that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.

Meanwhile, recently leaked plans from the House GOP show Republicans are considering initiatives of their own. This is certainly not the end of this issue for lawmakers.

Gov. Katie Hobbs statement

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs

"Republican extremists in the House have yet again failed to do the right thing. In just one week living under this new reality, women, doctors, and healthcare providers have already begun to feel the devastating effects of living under a total abortion ban. We cannot go on like this.

I will continue to call on the Legislature to do its job and repeal this law. In the meantime, I remain committed to protecting the freedoms of every single Arizonan, and I am working to make sure women are able to access the care they need.

A law from 1864 written by 27 men cannot be allowed to govern the lives of millions of Arizona women. It’s time to put politics aside and do the right thing." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.