AZ Lawmakers Struck From Committee After Abortion Law Vote

( – Two Arizona state representatives have been kicked out of committees after voting to repeal an old abortion law. The repeal campaign has been controversial, with accusations of extremism from both sides. Many Republicans support the law — but some, including pro-life advocates, think it goes too far.

In 1864, President Lincoln sent Judge William Thompson Howell to the newly created Arizona Territory to set up a legal system in the remains of the old New Mexico Territory, half of which had seceded and joined the CSA. One part of the legal code he created was a ban on all abortions except where necessary to save the mother’s life.

That law fell into disuse with the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, but after the Supreme Court struck down Roe in 2022 it came back into force. Court rulings quickly blocked it, but on April 9 the state’s supreme court ruled that the law was constitutional and cleared the way for it to take effect on June 8. At that point, Democrats in the state legislature quickly introduced bills to repeal it.

On April 24, the Arizona House voted on its repeal bill, and three Republicans sided with Democrats to push it to a narrow victory. The state senate will vote sometime after May 1 and would need two GOP senators to vote in favor.

There is a faction in the Arizona Republican Party that doesn’t want the 1864 law repealed, though, and it includes House Speaker Ben Toma (R). Following the vote, Toma immediately removed Representative Matt Gress (R) from the Appropriations Committee and Representative Oscar De Los Santos (D) from the Appropriations and Rules committees.

While hardliners want the 1864 law to stand, many Republicans — especially those in potential swing seats — disagree. Gress himself says he’s pro-life, and other abortion opponents point out that the old law has no exemptions for rape or incest.

Former president Donald Trump said the Arizona Supreme Court had gone too far in resurrecting it. With Trump fighting hard to regain the White House this November, many Republicans will be wondering if the party can afford this sort of divisive infighting.

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