Breaking News
More () »

Gov.-elect Hobbs says she'll call special session on day 1 to repeal Civil War-era abortion ban

The incoming Democratic governor also says she would accept a call from Kari Lake, despite vitriol during the campaign.

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs plans to call a special session after she takes office to repeal the state's 158-year-old, near-total ban on abortion.

"On day one, I will call a special session to repeal the state's pre-Roe ban," Hobbs told 12News Wednesday, in her first televised interview since the governor's race was called for her Monday night.

"Whether you're a legislator in a Republican district or a Democratic district, there is strong support for repealing this law. And if folks really want to learn the lessons from this last election, it's that Arizonans want bipartisan leadership to tackle these tough issues." 

But the incoming Democratic governor acknowledged that she might not have enough votes in the Legislature for a repeal. Republicans hold one-vote majorities in both the House and the Senate.

A special session would fulfill one of Hobbs' campaign pledges.

Hobbs ran on a platform of expanding women's reproductive rights, a key issue for independent woman voters, and protecting democracy, her job as Arizona's secretary of state.  

Arizona's near-total ban on abortion, dating to Territorial days in 1864, is on hold as an Appeals Court weighs whether it should take effect. The law was activated after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade in June.

The Arizona Supreme Court will likely have the final say on the state abortion law.

Hobbs is a former Senate minority leader and four-term lawmaker.

She said she had yet to speak with the Legislature's incoming Republican leaders - House Speaker-elect Ben Toma of Peoria and Senate President-elect Warren Petersen of Gilbert.

Hobbs also said removing the spending cap on Arizona's K-12 schools was a priority early in the session, calling it "the most pressing issue" for schools.

Schools have been warning of layoffs and budget cuts in the spring because a state-imposed limit prevents them from spending about $1.6 billion the Legislature and governor gave them. 

As of 8 p.m, Wednesday, Hobbs led Democratic challenger Kari Lake, a former TV news anchor, by 17,846 votes, or 0.8 percentage points - 50.4% to 49.6%.

Lake's deficit is almost as large as the number of uncounted ballots statewide, an estimated 20,548.

Lake has not conceded. She declined to say during the campaign whether she would accept the election results if she lost.

After the race was called for Hobbs Monday night, Lake tweeted: "Arizonans know BS when they see it."

During the campaign, Hobbs accused Lake of using the kind of inflammatory rhetoric that led to death threats against Hobbs and harassment of her husband.

Hobbs said she would still take a call from Lake of congratulations or support.

"Absolutely," Hobbs said. "I think that's an important step to healing some of the division."

"One of the urgent things in front of us is how we bring people together."

Lake's allies are laying the legal groundwork for a potential court challenge to the election results. Arizona counties certify their results on Nov. 28. The state's certification is a week later, on Dec. 5.

Hobbs said her transition team was taking shape, facing a calendar that gives her an unusually short period - 42 days - to stand up an administration.

Swearing in for the new statewide officeholders is Monday, Jan. 2. The new legislative session starts Monday, Jan. 9. Hobbs would have to release her proposed executive budget by the following Friday.

Hobbs said Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who is termed out after eight years in office, had called her.

"He was very congratulatory and gracious and is ready to work with my team on a seamless transition."

As co-chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Ducey spent more than $10 million on television ads attacking Hobbs, according to the Associated Press.

Decision 2022

Track all of our current updates with the upcoming elections in Arizona on our 12News YouTube channel. Subscribe for updates on all of our new uploads.

Before You Leave, Check This Out