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Arizona gov. signs anti-abortion bill into law amid GOP push to restrict the procedure

Democrats and women's rights advocacy groups accuse Republicans seeking to pass sweeping anti-abortion legislation of attempting to use the bills, which will be challenged in court, to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Democrats and women's rights advocacy groups accuse Republicans seeking to pass sweeping anti-abortion legislation of attempting to use the bills, which will be challenged in court, to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

April 28 (UPI) -- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed into law a sweeping controversial anti-abortion bill that criminalizes abortions performed due to genetic issues of the fetus amid a Republican push to limit access to the procedure.

The Republican governor signed the bill Tuesday, making it a felony for a medical provider to knowingly perform an abortion because of a fetus' "genetic abnormality," including chromosomal disorders, such as down syndrome, and morphological malformation. Exceptions are in place for "lethal fetal" conditions.

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"There's immeasurable value in every single life -- regardless of genetic makeup," Ducey said in a statement. "We will continue to prioritize protecting life in our preborn children, and this legislation goes a long way in protecting real human lives."

S.B. 1457 also criminalizes the use of force to coerce a person to have an abortion because of a genetic abnormality or accept money to finance such a procedure.

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Under the law, the medical practitioner must sign an affidavit stating they are performing an abortion not because of a genetic issue. They must also inform the person they are performing the procedure on that it is unlawful to have an abortion over the fetus' sex, race or genetic abnormality.

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It also bans the mailing of abortion-inducing drugs and requires fetal remains from an abortion to be cremated or interned.

The Center for Arizona Policy, an anti-abortion group, celebrated the bill being signed into law as a "win" for Arizonans.

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"Arizonans can be proud of a state that leads the way in protecting the preborn and caring for women facing unplanned pregnancies," Cathi Herrod, the center's director, said in a statement.

The Bishops of Arizona Catholic Conference also issued a statement Tuesday, saying the bill maintains Arizona's status as "the most pro-life state in the country."

"This legislation looks forward to the day that Roe vs. Wade is overturned and shows concern for both unborn children and their mothers," the state's five bishops said in a statement, referring to the landmark 1971 ruling by the Supreme Court that legalized abortion.

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The bill reached Ducey's desk after it passed the Republican-controlled House along party lines 31-29 and the Republican-controlled Senate also along party lines 16-14 on Thursday.

Reproductive health and women's rights advocates and Democratic politicians had urged the governor to not sight the bill, stating it is unconstitutional and harms both medical practitioners and women.

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"S.B. 1457 will undoubtedly have unintended consequences for people who experience pregnancy loss of any kind and will force people to carry pregnancies to term against their will," Darrell Hill, director of policy at the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said in a statement, stating that abortion was still legal and protected under federal law.

Progress Arizona, an organization that promotes progressive policy in the state, called the bill "horrible" for equating the rights of fetuses and embryos with full personhood to take away the rights and freedoms of the person who is carrying the fetus.

It also said it will be costly for the state as the law will be challenged in court.

"The AZ GOP knows that this bill is disgusting, extreme and wrong," the organization said in a statement. "They want to go to court and use it as an excuse to overturn Roe vs. Wade."

The bill was signed as Republican-controlled states seek to pass sweeping anti-abortion legislation and a day after the GOP governors of Oklahoma and Montana each signed into law three such bills to restrict access to medical procedure.

Arizona House Democratic leader Rep. Melody Hernandez accused Republican lawmakers of pursuing a bill no stakeholder from the disability community had asked for.

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"Republicans will use anyone as pawns in their relentless effort to waste millions in taxpayer dollars defending this blatantly unconstitutional law in court hoping that the Supreme Court will upend current precedent on this essential form of healthcare and grant a fetus more rights than the person who is pregnant," she said in a statement.

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