Arizona’s Abortion Ban Is Exactly What Donald Trump Wants

Arizona’s Abortion Ban Is Exactly What Donald Trump Wants

Arizona’s Abortion Ban Is Exactly What Donald Trump Wants

If you leave it up to the states, bad things will happen to women. That’s why rising numbers of voters are embracing broad abortion protections.


It’s tough if not impossible to applaud the political opportunities created when a state, in this case Arizona, imposes the nation’s strictest abortion ban—even if it does increase the chances that voters will strike down the law with an initiative to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s Constitution come November, and will elect pro-choice legislators up and down the ballot. Arizona’s ban, passed in 1864, before it was even a state, includes only an exception to save the life of the mother, not for rape or incest. The state Supreme Court ruled that it will take effect 45 days from yesterday. Arizona women will suffer, and some may die, before the law can be undone. Providers could face prison time.

Politically, if you want to know who’s hurt by the ban, look at which party is screaming the loudest. MAGA Senate candidate Kari Lake howled on Tuesday. The last time she ran, in 2022, she embraced the 1864 statute; now, she condemns it, demanding “an immediate commonsense solution that Arizonans can support.”

The ruling in Arizona came the day after former president Donald Trump tried to carve out a reasonable-seeming position on abortion—in which he said abortion law should be left up to the states, implicitly opposing moves toward a national abortion ban—and failed. In fact, the situation in Arizona is what Trump’s position inevitably leads to—leave it to the states, and some states will dredge up cruel, Civil War–era laws! According to Politico, two Arizona House Republican incumbent candidates blasted the decision. “Today’s ruling is a disaster for women and providers,” Representative Juan Ciscomani said. But he wants a 15-week ban. Representative David Schweikert, known as something of a moderate, urged “the state legislature to address this issue immediately.”

Arizona Democrats immediately promised to ditch the new law in November, and to work toward a more humane solution in the meantime. “Certainly people are outraged,” Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs told CBS. “And this will motivate them in November.” Attorney General Kris Mayes agreed. “I think this changes everything. I think it supercharges the ballot initiative and it supercharges the elections of all pro-choice candidates.” Indeed, President Biden won Arizona by just 11,000 votes in 2020 and his campaign there can use extra juice, amid reports that some Latino voters are paying more attention to Trump this year.

Initiative organizers say they have more than enough signatures from state voters, but it has not been formally placed on the ballot yet. The Arizona Republic reports that organizers have 500,000 signatures, beyond 383,000 required for ballot access. They’re aiming to collect 800,000 signatures before a July deadline. Abortion will definitely be on the ballot in Florida, Maryland, and New York; organizers are optimistic about planned initiatives in Arizona and at least four other states.

Much like the Florida initiative that would enshrine abortion rights in that state’s Constitution, Arizona’s measure protects the practice up until fetal viability, or after that if necessary to save the mother’s life. While polling in Arizona and elsewhere shows that strong majorities of voters want to preserve access to abortion, significant portions would nevertheless like to see some limits. However, since those favoring limits differ wildly over which ones they’d support, these more sweeping initiatives are gaining the upper hand. Rising numbers of voters tell pollsters they support no restrictions on abortion, and declining numbers say they want abortion to be illegal under all circumstances.

Writing exactly one year ago, I lamented the bewildering and harmful archipelago of abortion laws that American women must navigate in this post-Dobbs landscape. The one positive development since then, however, is that people are belatedly learning that abortion is healthcare—and necessary in cases of incomplete miscarriages, terminal fetal abnormalities, severe maternal complications—as well as a choice that, for various reasons, a woman must make for herself, in consultation with medical professionals or loved ones as she chooses. The fraught efforts to legislate the various possible timing of bans—six weeks, 12 weeks, 15 weeks—as well as to determine conditions for potential “exceptions,” have only succeeded in making it clear that the “body politic” can’t handle questions pertaining to individual women’s bodies. In the short term, I fear this draconian ban with hurt women; in the longer run, it has the potential to liberate all of us.

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