#World News

Arizona pushes abortion to centre stage of 2024

By Anthony Zurcher

The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday pushed the abortion issue to centre stage in a state that could be pivotal in deciding who wins November’s US presidential election.

It has prompted Democrats to go on the attack, and set many Republicans scrambling to align themselves more closely with the public sentiment.

The court paved the way for a near-total ban on abortion, a law passed in 1864 when Arizona was still a US territory, to go into effect in the coming weeks if there is no further legal action. The law had been pre-empted for nearly a half-century, as a result of the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling in Roe v Wade that guaranteed a woman’s right to abortion.

Two years ago, however, the US Supreme Court overturned that abortion precedent. This gave old bans like the one in Arizona – which became a state in 1912 – new life.

The Arizona court decision prompted quick condemnation from the Biden administration as well as from local Democrats and pro-choice activists.

“This ruling is a result of the extreme agenda of Republican elected officials who are committed to ripping away women’s freedom,” the president said in a statement provided by the White House.

While anti-abortion groups heralded the decision, many Republicans have distanced themselves from the state court action, reflecting polls that suggest a majority of the public – in the US and in Arizona – favour abortion rights and oppose strict bans on the procedure.

The party had largely opposed abortion before Roe was overturned, but is now grappling with the fallout from that decision. Kari Lake, the presumptive Republican nominee for an open Arizona Senate seat, provided a vivid illustration of the challenges and contradictions the abortion issue is presenting for conservative candidates.

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