PHOENIX (NEWSnet/AP) — The Arizona Legislature chamber erupted into shouts Wednesday as Republican lawmakers throttled discussion over the state’s newly revived 1864 law that criminalizes most abortion circumstances.

The state Supreme Court cleared the way on Tuesday for enforcement of the law, which dates to before Arizona became a state.

House Democrats and at least one Republican tried to open discussion Wednesday on a repeal of the 1864 abortion ban, which holds no exceptions for rape or incest.

But GOP leaders, who command the majority, cut it off twice and quickly adjourned for the week.

Outraged Democrats erupted in finger-waving chants of “Shame! Shame!”

Republican state Rep. Teresa Martinez, of Casa Grande, said there was no reason to rush the debate. She accused Democrats of “screaming at us and engaging in extremist and insurrectionist behavior on the House floor.” The GOP-led Senate briefly convened without debate on abortion.

“We are navigating an extremely complex, emotional and important area of law and policy,” said Martinez, the GOP House whip. “In my opinion, removing healthy babies from healthy mothers is not health care nor reproductive care. Pregnancy is not an illness. It should be celebrated. It is an abortion that terminates life.”

Democratic legislators seized on national interest in the state’s abortion ban.

“We’ve got the eyes of the world watching Arizona right now,” said Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, of Tucson. “We know that the Supreme Court decision yesterday is extreme. And we know that should the 1864 ban on abortion remain a law in Arizona, people will die.”

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs called inaction on the proposed repeal unconscionable.

Three Republican legislators openly oppose the ban, including state Rep. Matt Gress, of Phoenix, who made a motion Wednesday to repeal the law.

At Camelback Family Planning in Phoenix, where about one-fourth of Arizona abortions are performed, registered nurse Ashleigh Feiring said abortion services were still available and that staff hope emergency legislation will avoid interruptions or closure.

“Our plan is to stay open as long as possible,” Feiring said. “Our clinic has been shut down twice in the last four years, but we’ve always resumed service.”

At the same time, anti-abortion groups including SBA Pro-Life America urged Arizona residents to oppose a proposed ballot initiative aimed at placing abortion rights in Arizona’s state constitution. Advocates said they’ve gathered more than 500,000 signatures for the petition from the Arizona for Abortion Access campaign — far above what they need to add a ballot question asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment protecting the right to abortion until viability, when a fetus could survive outside the womb.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, most Republican-controlled states have started enforcing new bans or restrictions, and most Democratic-dominated ones have sought to protect abortion access.

In the meantime, voters who faced ballot initiatives have sided with abortion rights supporters on statewide measures in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Ohio and Vermont.

Follow NEWSnet on Facebook and X platform to get our headlines in your social feeds.

Copyright 2024 NEWSnet and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.