Arizona Democratic Governor-Elect Katie Hobbs plans to call an emergency session to clarify the state's abortion laws before the start of her term in January. This could put her in a difficult situation from the beginning.
The Democrat is seeking to have an 1864 law, which allows abortions only when there risk to the child because there are two contradicting laws in place. Another law is a ban of 15 weeks which was signed by the Republican Governor Doug Ducey in March that doesn't include any exclusions for rape or incest beyond this point.
While Hobbs doesn't support the ban of 15 weeks, she's working under an assumption Republican as well as Democratic lawmakers would favor the newer law several conservative lawmakers voted for.
“My current focus is to remove this law. It should be straightforward and easy. If you think about having the support of the largest portion of Arizonans and aligning with the major issue in this election we just completed, I'd like to believe that some Republicans are willing to change their mind,” Hobbs told KTAR in an interview earlier this month.
It's apparent that Hobbs will try to deliver her followers quickly, and this could be a rash decision in the long run.
Republicans remain an overwhelming majority of the legislature in the state and they have a difficult bargain. It will require a lot of convincing to convince a Republican to join with Democrats to eliminate the law from 1864 particularly in the early part of the session, when everyone wants to show their strength.
Why would she want to begin with something that can cause her to appear unpopular and divisive instead of trying to score the win in the first place? There will be many occasions during the coming four years when she will need to make good with legislators in order to avoid a permanent impasse.
Hobbs is more focused on getting her supporters excited and making Republicans look smug instead of opening with an apology and securing wins that are legitimate to all Arizonans.
It is possible that the aim is to garner positive coverage from the national media, where liberal commentators will surely give her praise in the process of establishing herself as a pro-choice advocate in the post-Roe time. The Attorney General who is retiring, Mark Brnovich, is enforcing the 15-week law. However, the final decision about what to do with the two laws currently in force is headed through an appellate court, as per The Arizona Republic. The paper also reported that the new Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes would change the Attorney General's office's policy on the issue, declaring that the office will not be able to support the previous law.
But the most sensible option for Hobbs is to allow an opportunity to breathe before holding the special session.
It's sure to be a lengthy four-year period with these sharp differences between legislators and the new leadership of certain statewide offices. Overall, moderates across the Arizona government will end up taking the lead in this situation and will definitely take a beating on both sides. Hobbs will be the first person to impose her will.