Politics of Arizona and Abortion


The Dobbs decision inevitably lead to a collision of two laws. The first, passed in 1864, which only allowed an abortion in the case where the mother’s life was in danger. The second law passed a few years ago, set 15 as weeks as the time limit on an abortion.

One would assume that the most recent law would prevail. But there was a “gotcha” clause that said if the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the 1864 territorial law was valid, then the 1864 law would prevail.

This week, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled on the 1864 law was valid and that the legislature intended the original law to prevail. Ergo, virtually all abortions will soon be illegal. The law does not go into effect for about two months.

Democrats in Arizona are ecstatic. With a Democrat Governor (Thanks, Kari Lake) if the one-vote GOP margin in both Houses of the Legislature is flipped, a myriad of laws are likely in peril on gun rights, school choice and taxes. They also think that this ruling hands the Senate race to Democrat Rueben Gallegos (especially if Kari Lake is the candidate) and could also flip two House seats, first termer Juan Ciscomani in a marginally Republican district (Tucson area CD6) and David Schweikert (east Phoenix CD 1).

I have written previously that the the Pro-life advocates were negligent by not having a political plan in place if Roe v. Wade was overturned. When it was, the pro-abortion team methodically went state by state (what the pro-life people said they wanted) and have won every state ballot referendum by large margins and in many cases extended access to abortion.

The Prolife Position

Most prolife advocates have taken the position that life begins at conception and so they are in support of this ruling. They are also realistic, understanding that with 50 years of legal abortion built-into the culture, that voters are not going to support the 1864 law and ergo will grudgingly support the replacement law with 15 weeks as the cut off.

The Pro-Choice position

Since 1971 the pro-choice voters assumed that the 1971 Roe ruling would never be overturned. With Dobbs, it was and the voters in each state are taking action on the rules for abortions in their respective states.

Not many pro-choice voters are committed to the idea that abortions should be legal until birth. According to survey data, they too can accept restrictions beginning at about 15 weeks with some exceptions after that point. The ballot measure that is gathering signatures in Arizona would allow abortions with very little restriction until birth.

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Democrats\Republicans Play Politics

With Joe Biden in a terrible position for re-election, the Democrats desperately needed an issue in Arizona to energize their base. This decision, they believe, has provided a pathway for victory.

The question is, do they wait until the November ballot initiative to pass to rectify this situation when it may turn out more of their voters by deferring? When the rulling was handed down, the Left and pro-choice advocates proclaimed it an immediate emergency and a dramatic dust-up occurred during the state legislative session this past week. Puzzlingly, there were no mass demonstrations at the Capitol or on campuses in the state. Perhaps the voters are not stupid and they know that women can drive 3 hours to California anytime and get an abortion there, so the 5 alarm fire is hyperbolic.

Republicans are Stuck

The GOP state legislature which consists of politicians who 95% say they are staunchly pro-life are in a quandary. Do they pass a bill returning the 15 week ban as prevailing law right away and thereby risk losing a portion of their rock solid voters?

More importantly,  if they passed such a bill, will Governor Katie Hobbs sign it, thereby partially bailing out the GOP, while at the same time solving the so-called dire health care emergency for women?

As for candidates, Senate candidate Kari Lake has done a two-step shuffle backtracking from her full-throated support for the 1864 law during the 2022 Governor’s primary race. The remainder are trying to figure out how to message this change without upsetting the base and at the same time giving themselves wiggle room to ameliorate the 30% of non-party voters.

Stay tuned, Arizona is the vortex for 2024 elections in the U.S.

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Ron Bechky
Ron Bechky
1 month ago

The Dems will certainly want the referendum on the ballot Its a winning issue
There are no Rs supporting a version restoring women’s right to choose