Arizona Democrats vowed to fight for women’s rights after a court reinstated a law enacted during the Civil War that bans abortion in nearly all circumstances, the Associated Press reports. Republican candidates were silent after the ruling, which said the state can prosecute doctors and others who assist with an abortion unless it’s necessary to save the mother’s life. Katie Hobbs and Kris Mayes, the Democratic nominees for governor and attorney general, implored women not to sit on the sidelines, saying the ruling sets them back more than a century to an era when only men had the right to vote.
The ruling presents a new hurdle for Republicans who were already struggling to navigate abortion politics. It fires up Democrats and distracts attention from the GOP’s attacks on President Biden and his record on border security and inflation less than three weeks before the start of early and mail-in voting, which are popular in Arizona. Abortion rights are salient among suburban women, who play a decisive role in close elections in Arizona. “In Arizona, with a draconian abortion law in effect today, I think you will see suburban women take a real look at Democratic candidates who promise to do something even if it’s not in their power,” said Barrett Marson, a Republican consultant. The old law was enacted among a set of laws known as the “Howell Code” adopted by the 1st Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1864.