Arizona will see more abortions if Republicans stick with a near-total ban

Arizona Republicans need to get this straight.

If they continue to insist on political purity and ignore political reality, they will pave the way for Democrats to write abortion law in this state.

When Democrats do — and they are in the process now with their ballot initiative — they will create abortion without limits.

That’s where we are headed.

Republicans who hold fast on abortion will lose

Someone who (at least outwardly) doesn’t seem to understand that is Cathi Herrod.

On Tuesday, the director of the culturally conservative Center for Arizona Policy issued a threat on social media to Republican lawmakers:

“Arizonans deserve lawmakers they can trust. They want elected officials who keep their word, especially when it concerns human life. I call on state legislators ... to stand by their convictions and refuse to repeal the pre-Roe law now that it has been upheld.”

That law is the 1864 territorial-era prohibition that forbids almost all abortions and would imprison doctors who perform them.

After Roe, Arizona won't stand for 1864 law

The people of Arizona are not going to stand for that law. Fifty years of Roe v. Wade have persuaded and conditioned them to believe that abortion should be safe and legal.

A 2022 AP VoteCast survey showed that just 6% of Arizonans believe in blanket bans on abortion. Sixty-one percent say abortion should be legal in most cases.

If pro-life purists in the Republican Party insist on holding fast to the 1864 law, the party will lose elections and lose the Arizona House and Senate. They will almost certainly hand the next U.S. Senate seat to Ruben Gallego.

Democrats will then control Arizona’s two U.S. Senate seats, the state’s executive and legislative branches and two more of the most powerful statewide offices — attorney general and secretary of state.

The pro-life purists will have allowed the liberal party to turn Arizona blue at a time when Republicans enjoy a 100,000-plus voter registration advantage.

Democrats once said abortion should be rare

That’s what purity gets you.

Your conscience will feel fresh and clean, but you will have stoked the abortion industrial complex.

Because this is not your father’s Democratic Party.

That older party believed that abortion should be legal, safe and rare. That party had a conscience when it came to abortion. This one does not.

Today’s Democrats want to normalize abortion and celebrate it. They want to remove all stigma and make sure every abortion that can happen will happen.

That's not how they view abortion anymore

In 2018, comedian Michelle Wolf squeezed into a red, white and blue drum major’s outfit and mocked conservatives with her confetti-tossing “Salute to Abortion.”

It took only one year for Democrats to turn that farce into reality.

In 2019, New York Democrats passed the most liberal abortion law in the nation and celebrated by lighting the One World Trade Center in pink.

Imagine that. A major political party grown so cold to life in the womb that it could celebrate its destruction in neon pink.

A blanket prohibition is a thing of the past

Democrats will be celebrating more if Arizona Republicans preserve the 1864 ban on abortions. Because they know Republicans will have turned the keys of control over to them.

Arizona pro-life purists aren’t just serving Arizona Democrats. They’re serving the national Democratic Party with their insistence on blanket bans.

Abortion law may finally force: The GOP to fix itself

Already the leading Democrats are leaping on Arizona’s 1864 abortion law and nationalizing the issue.

Hillary Clinton is decrying Arizona’s “cruelty,” while Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ask voters to imagine a Civil War-era law used to imprison modern doctors who perform abortions. Keep this going, Arizona Republicans, and "1864" will become the Democratic battle cry in the presidential election.

Blanket prohibitions on abortion are fast becoming an anachronism. Republicans will need to accept that reality and reestablish new ground upon which to try to reduce abortions in this country.

You can already see where this is going.

Where the abortion debate will go instead

Republican leaders from MAGA’s Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis to establishment figures such as Mitt Romney and Doug Ducey have embraced laws to make abortion illegal after at least 15 weeks.

That would make 93% of abortions safe and legal.

The legalization debate will then be fought over a tiny portion of abortions that are performed late in pregnancy and border on infanticide.

The country can watch animated graphics of such abortions - and they are ghastly - and let Democrats explain why they not only support such procedures but celebrate the laws that permit them.

As far as promoting life and reducing abortions earlier in pregnancy, not all contests are fought in a legislature or a courtroom. Pro-life conservatives will need to try to win back American culture with positive messages to young people about children and parenthood.

There are millions of American mothers and fathers who can attest to the great blessing of children, even children who were unanticipated, who came into homes and illuminated the lives of families and made everyone around them better people.

Young women and men need to hear that message. All the time.

Phil Boas is an editorial columnist with The Arizona Republic. Email him at

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona will see more abortion if Republicans stick firm to 1864 ban