Bucking Trump, Anti-Abortion Movement Shows Deep Roots in Arizona

Speaker Ben Toma walked off the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives, resolute — if stressed — after he cast the pivotal vote to again block an effort to repeal the state’s 1864 abortion ban.

He knew he was going against the wishes of top Republicans like former President Donald J. Trump, who had called on the Legislature to change the ban. He worried about political blowback to Republicans in the coming elections.

But Mr. Toma saw himself as upholding moral principles far more foundational than current politics, the past president or even the ban itself. Attempts to undercut it as “a Civil-War-era law” were “sort of ridiculous,” he said in an interview on Wednesday after the vote. He pointed to the Constitution and Bill of Rights — and the Bible.

“Even all of our laws are actually based on, what, the Ten Commandments, and the Book of Genesis, which are thousands of years ago,” he said. “The whole idea that we are equal in the sight of God, our maker, that we have unalienable rights, all that, that is all fundamentally a Christian worldview.”

This commitment to Arizona’s 1864 ban — a near-total ban that the State Supreme Court recently reinstated — underscores the power of conservative Christian abortion opponents in shaping American abortion laws, even as they represent a minority view. Despite a popular backlash against the Supreme Court’s decision overturning a constitutional right to abortion in 2022, anti-abortion forces have maintained a stronghold in many state legislatures, not only in deeply conservative states like Alabama, but also closely divided ones like Arizona.

Members of Students for Life of America went door to door try to persuade voters not to support a proposed ballot measure to enshrine abortion rights in the Arizona Constitution.Credit…Cassidy Araiza for The New York Times
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