Abortion law confuses fatal-defect cases

July 30, 2012 at 4:49 PM
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PHOENIX, July 30 (UPI) -- An Arizona law forbidding doctors from aborting fetuses after 20 weeks will result in more babies with health issues to be carried to term, agencies say.

House Bill 2036 takes effect Thursday and although more babies with fatal fetal defects will be born and likely die within minutes or hours, more counseling will be offered to families experiencing the trauma of losing a child, The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic said Monday.

The law defines the gestational age of the fetus as beginning on the first day of the woman's last period, meaning abortions are effectively banned at about 18 weeks of the pregnancy, typically the same time most abnormalities are detected in ultrasound procedures. While eight other states ban abortions after 20 weeks, Arizona's is the only law that pushes the ban back to 18 weeks, the newspaper said.

Organizations that offer perinatal hospice services in Arizona are not funded by the bill, and fear they will be overwhelmed when the law takes effect.

"This law may have intended to do good, but it can really adversely affect non-profit organizations that desperately want to help people," said Joanne Cacciatore, chief executive officer of the MISS Foundation, adding one or two families facing a pregnancy with a fatal prognosis contact her group monthly.

"They're finding us on their own. I don't know what will happen when the Legislature opens this up," she said.

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