Home News Ariz. Republicans walk back anti-abortion stances after court revives 1864 ban

Ariz. Republicans walk back anti-abortion stances after court revives 1864 ban

Arizona Republicans were scrambling Wednesday to disavow or revise long-held anti-abortion stances after the battleground state’s conservative supreme court revived an unpopular strict ban that was enacted in 1864.

Staunch opponents of abortion, including U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake and two endangered GOP congressmen, denounced the bombshell ruling even though they all enthusiastically supported the repeal of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that opened the door to it.

One Republican state senator even distanced herself from her own supreme court justice husband who voted to uphold the 160-year-old law.

“It is time for my legislative colleagues to find common ground of common sense: the first step is to repeal the (1864) law,” said GOP state Sen. Shawnna Bolick, who is married to Justice Clint Bolick, one of four Republican-appointed judges who joined the ruling.

Democrats pounced on the Republicans for flip-flopping on abortion rights amid rising outrage in Arizona and nationwide over increasingly strict bans enacted by GOP-run states.

“Like millions of women across Arizona, I am reeling from the supreme court’s callous decision,” Gov. Katie Hobbs said in a somber video message. “I refuse to let extremists take control of women’s bodies.”

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs speaks to reporters at the state Capitol in Phoenix on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Jonathan Copper)
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs speaks to reporters at the state Capitol in Phoenix on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Jonathan Copper)

The White House sought to put the blame squarely on former President Trump, who proudly takes credit for engineering the repeal of Roe v. Wade.

“By his own admission, there’s one person responsible: Donald Trump,” said Vice President Kamala Harris, who plans to travel to Arizona this week to rally support for abortion rights.

Arizona is one of a handful of battleground states that will likely pick the next president. Democrats hope outrage over the ban and a likely ballot measure to restore abortion rights could tip the scales in President Biden’s favor.

Trump Wednesday offered a word salad defense of his position that each state should be free to enact its own restrictions on abortion even as he cryptically suggested Arizona should “straighten out” the 1864 law.

“It’s a perfect system,” Trump said as he arrived in Atlanta for a campaign event. “It’s the will of the people.”

In Arizona, the court’s ruling left Republicans in open disarray as many of the state’s most prominent opponents of abortion raced to whitewash their previous support for bans like the 1864 law.

Lake, a staunch Trump supporter who is vying for an open U.S. Senate seat, offered no explanation for reversing her previous outspoken support for the law, which she said in 2022 would serve as a “model” for the nation.

Bolick and other Republican state lawmakers did not say why they voted for a 15-week ban that included a clause saying it was not intended to overturn the 1864 ban.

Rep. Juan Ciscomani and Rep. Dave Schweikert, two endangered Republicans representing narrowly divided swing districts, denounced the ruling even though they are opponents of abortion rights who both cheered the repeal of Roe v. Wade.

But some abortion opponents stuck to their guns, with the Arizona Freedom Caucus of right-wing state lawmakers saying all abortion should be illegal.

“Murdering children is not a policy disagreement,” it said.

The political panic in the GOP underscored the danger abortion rights poses to the party nationwide.

Trump Monday sought to sidestep the explosive issue by issuing a statement saying the issue should be “left to the states.”

That stance blew up in his face a day later when the Arizona court upheld the law, which was passed before Arizona was a state and when women didn’t have the right to vote. The 1864 edict was never reversed after Roe v. Wade permitted abortion nationwide and the state’s top court ruled it could go back into effect since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark ruling in 2022.

Along with Arizona, Florida’s Republican-led supreme court recently rubber-stamped a strict six-week ban on abortion.

Voters in Trump’s home state will vote on a constitutional amendment restoring abortion rights that Democrats believe will energize their supporters. Arizona abortion rights activists hope to get a similar measure on the ballot in November.


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