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Arizona legislators send bill to ban abortion after 15 weeks to governor's desk

Arizona legislators send bill to ban abortion after 15 weeks to governor's desk
Arizona lawmakers on Thursday passed a law to ban abortions in the state after 15 weeks into a pregnancy. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

March 25 (UPI) -- Arizona legislators have sent a bill to the desk of Gov. Doug Ducey to sign into law a ban on abortions after 15 weeks into a pregnancy.

The state's House passed Senate Bill 1164 along party lines 31-26 after the Senate narrowly passed it 16-13 last month to send the bill to Ducey, who has said he has previously signed into law bills to restrict the medical procedure.

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Arizona Democrats condemned the legislators for passing a bill they say does not reflect the beliefs of the public.

"The anti-choice, anti-freedom agenda behind these extreme bans is out of touch with the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans who support the right to abortion," the party tweeted.

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The bill, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Nancy Barto, states medical professionals who intentionally or knowingly perform an abortion on a pregnant person after 15 weeks of fetus gestation could face felony charges and potentially lose their medical license. An exception is permitted in cases of a medical emergency but the attending medical professional must file a report within 15 days of performing the procedure explaining that it was necessary.

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There is no exception included for pregnancies the result of incest or rape, though the person whom the abortion is performed upon will not face prosecution.

The bill is one of several that are being pursued to essentially ban or restrict abortions in Republican-controlled states, and is similar to a 15-week abortion ban passed in Mississippi that is now before the Supreme Court and one that Florida lawmakers earlier this month sent to the desk of their Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.

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From the floor on Thursday, Democratic state Rep. Judy Schwiebert told her colleagues that in a free country people should be able to make decisions over their own healthcare without the "interference of politicians like us."

She told the story of how her son and daughter-in-law had an abortion after learning their fetus had developed without a complete skull and wouldn't be able to live outside the womb, and that they were thankful there was no law in place that would punish them for making that decision or their doctor for performing the procedure.

"None of us can know the circumstances that any person is facing," she said. "Abortion is a deeply personal decision that should be respected."

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Meanwhile, Barto from the floor said the ban is not only the right thing to do to protect women but it is "obviously the right thing to do to protect the unborn."

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona not only called the law unconstitutional but said such bans disproportionally affect minority groups and low-income people.

"Make no mistake: The legislators who voted in favor of this law in the House and Senate will not stop at a 15-week ban," Brittany Fonteno, president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, said in a statement. "They will continue to chip away at abortion care until abortion is illegal in Arizona."

According to Arizona data, of the 13,186 abortions performed in the state in 2020, 636 were performed after 15 weeks into a pregnancy.

The Arizona House held its election a day after Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed a law modeled after Texas' controversial abortion ban that allows for civil court lawsuits be filed against doctors who perform an abortion after six weeks into a pregnancy.

Last April, Ducey signed into law a sweeping anti-abortion bill that criminalized abortions performed due to genetic issues of the fetus.

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