When it was Shawna Bolick’s turn to speak, words kept coming out of her mouth for 20 minutes. Conservative lawmakers were in the midst of a heated debate in the Republican-led Arizona Senate over a bill to repeal a The 1864 law bans almost all abortions.

Democrats needed at least one more vote to advance the bill.

Bolick bowed her head and stumbled over her words as she described her three difficult pregnancies, one of which ended in miscarriage. She said she would not have been able to overcome it “without the moral support of my husband”.

Her husband was Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick. majority share Which voted in April to reinstate a near-complete ban.

When the senator declared himself “pro-life,” observers in the gallery jeered. His intention became clear only in the last moments of his speech.

“I’m here to protect more babies,” he said. “I vote yes.”

The bill passed and a day later, on May 2, Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs Signed it into law.

Shawna Bolick’s vote to repeal the near-complete ban that her husband helped reinstate, underscores the increasingly chaotic philosophical and legal landscape around abortion access in Arizona, and it reflects national Republicans’ struggle it shows. Navigate the politics of abortion during Presidential election year.

This could create problems for judges and senators. Both declined interview requests from The Associated Press.

FILE - Arizona Senator Shawna Bolick, R-District 2, speaks at the state Capitol in Phoenix, Wednesday, May 1, 2024.  Bolick joined Democrats in the Arizona Senate on Wednesday to vote to repeal the 1864 ban on nearly all abortions, which her husband, Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick, helped restore.  (AP Photo/Matt York, File)
Arizona Sen. Shawna Bolick

Shawna and Clint Bolick met at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research institute in Washington, DC. He has long been friends with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas – godfather to one of Clint Bolick’s sons – and his conservative political activist wife, Ginny.

Clarence Thomas was part of the majority who overturned Roe vs. Wade In 2022 – something he’s been looking for for over 30 years – and that too put pressure on his colleagues to reverse the decisions Protecting gay marriage, gay sex, and the use of contraceptives.

After the 2020 presidential election, Ginny Thomas Sent emails urging Republican lawmakers in Arizona — including Shawna Bolick — to choose from their own voters To void Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Bolick, then a state representative, introduced a bill the following year to rewrite Arizona’s election laws to give state lawmakers the power to reject election results “at any time before the presidential inauguration.” His proposal died before it could be voted on.

His conservative credentials haven’t protected him from criticism as Clint Bolick seeks another six-year term on the bench, and his wife, who was appointed last year to represent his north Phoenix district, is scheduled to run for office in the July 30 primary. Will have to face challenge.

After the High Court published its decision, demands to repeal the almost complete ban quickly emerged. On social media, U.S. Representative David Schweikert, a Republican, said the court “made the law from the bench.” Former Republican Governor Doug Ducey said the court’s decision did not reflect “the will of the people.”

A progressive group also launched a campaign targeting Justices Bolick and Katherine King — both of whom voted to reinstate a 160-year-old abortion ban and are up for retention elections in November.

“Arizonans have a constitutional right to hold judges and juries accountable,” said Abigail Jackson, digital coordinator for Progress Arizona. “So we want to let Arizonans know that these two special judges will be on the ballot in November and we want to put some of our energy toward removing them from office.”

Voters rarely deny a sitting judge a second term; only six has been deposed Since Arizona adopted its judicial retention election system in 1974.

Meanwhile, Democrats have put abortion decisions at the center of their quest to regain control of the state Legislature for the first time in decades. Senator Bolick, who represents one of the most competitive districts in the state, is one of his top targets.

Bolick argued on the floor that repeal would protect against overwhelming ballot initiatives to ensure abortion rights, saying she wanted to “protect our state’s constitution from unlimited abortion.”

But the anti-abortion advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy criticized her vote to repeal, saying she “voted with pro-abortion activist lawmakers.”

Some Republican colleagues agreed.

“They have confused the pro-life community,” Senator Jake Hoffman said on the floor of the House after the vote. “Make no mistake, anyone watching this and hearing my voice right now, and anyone listening to this, voted for abortion.”

The repeal bill would not take effect until 90 days after the end of the state legislative session, usually in June or July. The civil war-era ban could be enforced in the meantime, but the High Court on Monday issued a stay on its decisionArizona’s prevailing abortion law is being considered for 2022 legislation that would ban abortions after 15 weeks.

But the legal landscape could change once again if Arizona voters approve a ballot measure in November enshrining abortion access up to 24 weeks of pregnancy in the state constitution. Organizers say they will collect more than enough signatures by the July 3 deadline.

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