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Hobbs signs abortion repeal bill into law

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Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs signed the abortion ban repeal into law on Thursday.

At a packed signing ceremony in the Executive Tower, Hobbs and legislative Democrats touted the step as a victory, but only emphasized that their efforts are not completed.

“And while I’m proud to sign this bill and provide and moment of relief for Arizonans, we still have work to do,” Hobbs said. “Let me be clear: I will do everything in my power to protect our reproductive freedoms. I trust that when it comes to these very personal decisions, that you and your loved ones know what is best.”

The Arizona State Senate passed House Bill 2677, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Stahl-Hamilton, on Wednesday with 14 Democrats and 2 Republicans voting in favor, and it passed the House last week with 29 Democrats and 3 Republicans voting in favor. The Republicans who voted for the repeal were Sens. T.J. Shope and Shawnna Bolick, as well as Reps. Matt Gress, Justin Wilmeth, and Tim Dunn.

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled 4-2 last month that a stay could be lifted on a law that was created in 1864 but reaffirmed by state leaders in 1977 to ban all abortions unless a mother’s life is at risk. The current law on the books is a 15-week law signed by former Gov. Doug Ducey in 2022.

Many Republicans and pro-life groups have expressed strong disagreement with the repeal.

“I acknowledge and commend the courage of those lawmakers who stood resolutely with the unborn and their mothers,” Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod said in a statement on Wednesday. “This repeal leads to the loss of innocent lives and potentially causes long-term physical and emotional harm to women. I grieve the loss of life and the erosion of societal values in our state that once stood for both mother and child.”

However, there is still a window in which the pre-statehood law could go into effect. This is because bills without an emergency clause, such as the repeal, take 90 days after the legislative session concludes to take effect. It’s unclear when that end date will be, as sometimes sessions can end in the late summer, like when it ended on July 31 last year. Attorney General Kris Mayes is asking the court to push back the court’s issuing of the lifted stay by 90 days, and the court will allow that to be considered, 12 News reported.

In the bigger picture, the repeal and the legal action on the case itself could be seen as a stopgap measure. This is because a proposed constitutional amendment to allow abortion up to “fetal viability” appears poised to make the ballot in November.

There have been some talks among House Republicans about counter efforts to the ballot initiative, but it’s unclear following the vote on the repeal in their chamber if there will be any movement on that. On the Senate side, Sen. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, said there has not been “substantive conversations.”