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Arizona About To Ban Most Abortions After 20 Weeks

The war on women continues as Arizona is poised to pass one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws:

The Arizona House has given final legislative approval to a bill that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and make numerous other changes to abortion regulations.

House Bill 2036, sponsored by Rep. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, has already passed the Senate and now goes to the governor. Gov. Jan Brewer has five days to sign it into law, veto it or do nothing and allow it to become law. If it becomes law, it will go into effect this summer.

In addition to the ban, there are some new requirements including mandatory ultrasounds prior to proceeding with an abortion:

The bill would make numerous changes to abortion laws, including banning abortions after 20 weeks except in a “medical emergency,” allowing doctors to prescribe medication abortion pills only through the seventh week of pregnancy and requiring clinics to perform an ultrasound 24 hours before an abortion instead of the current requirement of an hour before.

It also would set up several new requirements. Clinics must post signs saying it is against the law to coerce a woman into having an abortion, physicians must provide additional information about health risks and the state must create a website with abortion health risks, contact information for adoption agencies and photos or drawings of developing fetuses.

Current law allows abortions up until the point of viability, when a fetus could reasonably survive on its own outside the womb. That’s considered by many medical experts and abortion clinics to be 22 to 24 weeks. The law allows abortions beyond that to protect the “life or health of the woman” but doesn’t define health.

According to the Center for Arizona Policy, the conservative advocacy group behind the bill, about 200 Arizona women who were more than 20 weeks pregnant got an abortion in 2011. That’s about 2 percent of the approximately 11,000 abortions a year in the state.

Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley, a physician, voted against the bill.

“This bill sets into statute a standard of care, which I think is the first time we’ve ever done that as a Legislature,” he said.

He said many fetal anomalies can’t be determined until an ultrasound is conducted at 18 or 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“Women that go to have those ultrasounds are not looking to have an abortion,” he said. “But in a few cases, anomalies are found that are not comparable with life.”

He said those are always tough decisions, both for the physician and the patient.

“To force a woman to carry a fetus that has anomalies that are not compatible with life for another 20 weeks is not a decision we should be making here at the Legislature,” he said.

Lets also not forget that Arizona is the state that legislated that life begins two weeks prior to conception.


2 comments for “Arizona About To Ban Most Abortions After 20 Weeks”

  • Jon

    I’m pro-choice generally speaking but have to say it bothers me IMMENSELY that some wait so long (five months pregnant) to decide to have an abortion. Although I perfectly understand the ultimate and hidden agenda of the sponsors of this bill – which is probably banning abortion of any type – I also ask myself at what point do we (the pro-choice crowd) acknowledge the grey area between crude fetal development and fetal viability needs to be recognized at the intellectual level and the consequences of terminating such an advanced pregnancy. I don’t have the answer for that and I don’t want to dictate to others what they should do – that is a moral decision only they can make, but I can’t deny it bothers me that as a pro-choice person that support has to be a blanket endorsement sometimes, regardless of the circumstances or stage of the pregnancy.

    • Hi Jon,

      On this issue, you and I share one mind. While I am pro-choice, that does not make me pro-abortion. Particularly once we get close to the age of viability (22+ weeks). It is one of the reasons I encourage all of my clients pursuing ART to speak to their reproductive endocrinologist about performing PGD in the hopes that it will allow them to avoid having to make a very difficult choice later on in the pregnancy.

      So like you (as well as the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade), I personally do not believe that there is (nor should there be)an unconditional right to abort post-viability.

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