2 Republicans argue over last-minute push for abortion ban at Arizona Legislature

House Majority Leader Ben Toma scolds Rep. Jake Hoffman over a last-minute proposal to introduce an abortion ban./Arizona Legislature

By Ray Stern|Arizona Republic

Two Republican Arizona lawmakers got into a heated confrontation over abortion restrictions as the Legislature’s session was winding down last month.

While it was a sign of some division within the party, it also demonstrated how intent Republicans are on seeing a total ban on abortion in Arizona.

The fireworks exploded on the long-awaited last night of the 2022 legislative session. House members were sleep-deprived from the previous two late-night sessions and had just returned to work from a break following a lockdown in the House and Senate.

Minutes earlier, state troopers had used tear gas to disperse a crowd outside protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, which was announced that morning.

As the House raced to adjourn for the year with only a few bills left to vote, Reps. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, and Jacqueline Parker, R-Mesa, launched a plan to introduce a new bill to explicitly ban abortion. A move like that would mean lawmakers couldn’t finish their work that night and would have to come back two extra days.

As House video from June 24 shows, at about 9:30 p.m., Hoffman approached the dais with a document in his hand and talked with staff. As he turned to walk away, he and House Majority Leader Ben Toma, R-Peoria, who was helping run the proceedings, began a very public argument.

Hoffman suggested that Toma was willing to let abortions occur until a new state law went into effect that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“I’m not debating that with you,” Toma said. “I’m more pro-life than you ever will be. Not only that, but I’ve done more to help life than you ever will.”

Hoffman commented that Toma sounded “real professional.”

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