Tensions erupt on Arizona House floor as lawmakers try to repeal near-total abortion ban

Democratic lawmakers chanted "Save women’s lives" during a recess on the chamber floor.

Published: April 11, 2024 8:04am

Updated: April 11, 2024 1:07pm

(The Center Square) -

The Arizona Legislature on Wednesday adjourned for the week, after failed attempts to repeal the 1864 law that bans nearly all abortions in the state and that the Arizona Supreme Court recently upheld – but not before some tense moments on the House floor. 

Democratic lawmakers chanted "Save women’s lives" during a recess on the chamber floor. 

The state's high court on Tuesday upheld the abortion law, perhaps the most strict among states, sparking widespread backlash. 

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs and other state Democrats and a handful of Republicans have called for the Legislature to repeal the law to allow for the current 15-week law to remain in place for the time being.

Many Democrats have also been critical of the 15-week abortion law, but have said that it’s preferable to the alternative, which allows abortion only if a mother’s life is at risk regardless of number of weeks into a pregnancy.

On Wednesday, Rep. Matt Gress, R-Phoenix, motioned to bring Democratic Rep. Stephanie Stahl-Hamilton's House Bill 2677 that would repeal the abortion law up for a vote by bypassing committee and going straight to a floor vote.

However, another Republican then successfully called for a recess.

A second attempt after recess to make a motion also failed, as Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci motioned to adjourn and a roll call vote ended up leading to lawmakers going home for the week.

Gress was the only Republican not to vote to adjourn, but a vacancy on the Democratic side prevented a tie vote from occurring to continue working.

“We know that the Supreme Court decision yesterday was extreme,” Stahl-Hamilton said on the floor, saying that “people will die” if the law is not repealed before it goes into effect.

“We need to take up this issue very quickly and Arizonans deserve to see their elected officials work on this,” Gress told reporters.

House Speaker Ben Toma called the motion commotion “appallingly childish behavior” by Democrats in a statement, adding there is more time needed to sort the issue out. Now that state budget negotiations have started, the Legislature is now only meeting once per week.

On the Senate side, a similar move by Democrats was attempted but the chamber also ended up adjourning.

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