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Arizona halts return to 1864 abortion rights

In April, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that a 160-year-old, almost complete ban on abortion could be reinstated. But Parliament now prevented this – also with votes from the Republican ranks.

Arizona lawmakers have blocked a return to an 1864 ban on abortion. After the House of Representatives, the Senate also voted to repeal the 160-year-old law, which would otherwise have come into force again in a few weeks following a ruling by a state court.

The 1864 regulation banned abortion at all stages of pregnancy, including in cases of rape or incest. Exceptions would only have applied if the life of the woman concerned was at risk. In the vote of 16 to 14, one Republican and one Republican supported the Democratic Party representatives.

Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs is now expected to quickly sign the bill. According to US media, the law from the 19th century could possibly come into force in Arizona for a short time because the repeal that has now been decided is only taking effect with a delay. In Arizona, abortions are currently banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The state Supreme Court in April allowed the 1864 ban to be reinstated. It does not directly criminalize women who want an abortion, but rather people who help them do so – such as doctors. The ruling fueled an ongoing dispute in the US election campaign.

Republican: Violation of conservative values

“We are here to repeal a bad law,” Democratic Senator Eva Burch said of her decision to vote for repeal. “I don't want us to honor laws about women that were written at a time when women weren't allowed to vote.”

Republican Senator Wendy Rogers, however, said repealing the law would violate Arizona's conservative values. “Life begins at conception. They were right in 1864. We must be right in 2024 too.”

Legal patchwork

In June 2022, the Supreme Court – the highest court in the USA – with its conservative majority overturned the nationwide right to abortion, which had been in effect for almost 50 years. Since then, the states have been able to decide independently on rules regarding abortion.

This has created a legal patchwork. Abortions are now practically banned in various federal states, while elsewhere legislation that is still quite liberal – compared to German conditions – still applies.

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