PHOENIX — Arizona Democrats on Saturday vowed to fight for women’s rights after a court reinstated a law first enacted during the Civil War that bans abortion in almost all circumstances, seeking to capitalize on an issue they hope will have a major impact. impact on the midterm elections.
Republican candidates fell silent a day after the ruling, which said the state can prosecute doctors and others who assist with an abortion unless it is necessary to save the life of the mother. Kari Lake, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, and Blake Masters, the Senate candidate, did not comment.
Katie Hobbs and Kris Mayes, the Democratic candidates for governor and attorney general, implored women not to be sidelined this year, saying the ruling takes them back more than a century to an era when only men had rights. lets vote.
“We cannot allow (Lake) to hold public office and have the power to enact extreme anti-choice policies that he has promoted throughout his entire campaign,” Hobbs said during a news conference outside the attorney general’s office. “As Governor of Arizona, I will do everything in my power and use every tool at my disposal to restore abortion rights to Arizona.”
The ruling presents a new hurdle for Republicans already struggling to navigate abortion policy. It turns on Democrats and distracts from the GOP’s attacks on President Joe Biden and his record on border security and inflation less than three weeks before the start of early and mail-in voting, which are overwhelmingly popular in Arizona.
Abortion rights are particularly salient among suburban women who are playing a decisive role in Arizona’s contested elections.
“In Arizona, with a draconian abortion law in place today, I think you’ll see suburban women look closely at Democratic candidates who promise to do something even if it’s not in their power,” said Barrett Marson, a Republican consultant.
Democrats have spent tens of millions of dollars on television advertising focused on abortion rights, and women have registered to vote in greater numbers than men across the country.
The old law was first enacted among a set of laws known as the “Howell Code” adopted by the 1st Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1864. It has been re-adopted periodically throughout the state’s history, including in 1901 and as recently as the 1970s.
Lake has spoken positively of Arizona’s territorial abortion ban, which he called “a great law that’s already on the books.” She has called abortion “the ultimate sin” and has also said that abortion pills should be illegal.
Masters called abortion “demonic” during the GOP primary and called for a federal personality law that would give fetuses the rights of persons. He has toned down his rhetoric more recently, removing references to a personality law from his campaign website and removing language describing himself as “100% pro-life.”
More recently, Masters has said he would support a bill proposed by Sen. Lindsay Graham, R.C., that would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape, incest, or risk to the physical health of the mother. . She has also said that she supports a different Arizona law that seeks to ban 15-week abortions.
Neither the Lake nor Masters campaigns responded to requests for comment.
“Her silence speaks volumes,” said Mayes, the Democratic nominee for attorney general. “They know how absolutely unpopular this 1901 law is. They know how indefensible it is. And they know that when November 8 comes around, the people of Arizona are going to resoundingly reject this extreme abortion ban, this attack on the people of Arizona by voting them out.” “. down.”
If elected, Mayes said, she would not enforce the abortion law and order county prosecutors to do the same. She said that she believes she violates privacy rights guaranteed by the state constitution.
Hobbs said he would push lawmakers on his first day in office to repeal the abortion ban, a long shot for a legislature expected to be controlled by Republicans. Otherwise, he said he would support a ballot measure that would give voters a chance to decide in the 2024 election.
Hobbs also said he would veto any legislation that further restricts abortion.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the ruling, saying it would have “catastrophic, dangerous and unacceptable” consequences.
“Make no mistake: This retrograde decision exemplifies the worrying trend across the country of Republican officials at the local and national levels hell-bent on stripping women of their rights,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement.