Sorry, Arizona. House Republicans say 1864 is the new 2024 on abortion

Republicans in the Arizona House on Wednesday fended off a drive to repeal the state’s 1864 law that criminalizes abortion.

The prospect of losing control of the Legislature did not faze Republicans.

Neither did Donald Trump’s Friday call to repeal the 160-year-old law, or Kari Lake’s sudden newfound belief that women should have a choice.

They don’t hold a candle to the powerful Center for Arizona Policy’s Cathi Herrod, who on Tuesday warned Republicans they’d better stay in line. Or else.

In Arizona, a Republican crosses Herrod at his or her extreme peril.

Senate (or an election) could drive change

Making it official: 1864 really is the new 2024 in Arizona.

Until November, at least, when voters almost assuredly will flock to the polls to restore abortion rights in Arizona and likely, to hand over control of at least one chamber of the Legislature to the Democrats.

Or until the Senate takes a vote.

Republican Sens. Shawnna Bolick of Phoenix and T.J. Shope of Coolidge, both of whom have called for repeal, on Wednesday afternoon voted with Democrats to allow the late introduction of a bill to repeal the 1864 ban.

It likely will take a couple of days before a final vote can be held, possibly sending the bill back to the House and yet another showdown.

Meanwhile, both Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes fired off statements lambasting House Republicans for refusing to budge.

“I will continue to call on the Legislature to do its job and repeal this law,” Hobbs said. “In the meantime, I remain committed to protecting the freedoms of every single Arizonan, and I am working to make sure women are able to access the care they need.”

Hobbs could veto everything until a repeal comes

What Hobbs ought to do is announce she’s not signing a single bill until a repeal reaches her desk.

But even then, I’m not sure Republicans are going to give up on the dream of taking choice out of the hands of women.

Many of them sincerely believe that abortion is murder. Others sincerely believe that being pro-life is politically smart.

GOP's leaked abortion strategy: Is an insult to voters

Or at least, it used it be — when abortion was protected and you could rail about it all day long with no consequences.

In the end, only Rep. Matt Gress, a Republican facing a tough reelection battle in a competitive district, sided with Democrats in voting to temporarily suspend House rules and bring abortion repeal up for a vote.

The jury’s still out on whether his efforts to repeal were geniune or just performance art, intended to sucker his politically moderate district into not kicking him to the curb. His re-election is crucial if Republicans are to have any hope of maintaining their one-vote grip on the House.

Votes were likely there to nix abortion ban

The irony is the votes for repeal of this territorial-era law were there in the House.

Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, told me he would have voted for repeal but he wouldn’t vote to suspend the rules so that repeal vote could occur.

“I do not want to see the Legislature get into a habit of doing the wrong thing on policy,” he told me.

Way to ride the fence there.

Cook said he wants to see rape and incest added as exceptions allowed in the state’s 15-week law and that there’s still time to introduce a bill to do that.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see that happen, in a bid to win over some voters who support abortion but with limits.

Of course, that 15-week law is irrelevant given that it’s clear the Republicans intend to hold us hostage in the 19th century with prison for anyone who helps a non-dying woman get an abortion.

Until November, that is ... .

Reach Roberts at Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) at @LaurieRoberts.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona abortion remains stuck in 1864, even if it kills Republicans