This pas week Arizona lawmakers passed House Bill 2036 in direct contradiction of Roe v. Wade. The bill, already passed by the Senate, approves a 20-week abortion ban and imposes additional requirements on doctors, abortion clinics, and state’s health department. The bill’s only exception is if continuing pregnancy would pose a risk to the life of the mother or cause severe bodily harm to the mother.
The bill headed to the desk of Republican Gov. Jan Brewer for approval where it was signed into law into law yesterday.
There are a number of problems with the bill aside from its blatant rejection of the principle of Roe v. Wade. Supporters of the bill state that the 20-week abortion ban is necessary because that’s the point at which the fetus can begin feeling pain.
However, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association states “Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.”
Additionally, the bill counts a fetus’s gestational age in terms of the number of weeks since the day of a woman’s menstrual cycle, which tends to be about two weeks before a woman actually conceives. That would mean the “20-week ban” is really an 18-week ban, which we previously discussed on Red State Round Up when the bill was still being considered.
The bill also strips women, families, and doctors of the ability to decide how to handle fetal abnormalities, which can be discovered later in pregnancy. This was just one of the reasons that the voting on the bill was not along straight party lines, but one often cited by Republicans who voted against the bill. Rep. Michelle Ugenti said that though she considers herself “very, very pro-life” she could not vote for the bill considering that her own daughter was diagnosed with a birth defect at 20 weeks.
Although they chose to have the baby Ugenti said, “I think of people diagnosed with more devastating illnesses. In their darkest hour, in their moment of complete despair, is that where we should be telling families and women and husbands what to do?”
Republican Rep. Cecil Ash agreed with Ugenti saying, “This bill crosses the line from setting policy to practicing medicine.”
Finally, the bill sets a number of other restrictions on abortion aside from the effective 18-week ban. It no longer allows doctors to prescribe medication abortion pills after the seventh week of pregnancy again counting from the day of a woman’s last menstrual cycle, requires clinics to perform an ultrasound 24 hours before an abortion, and requires physicians to provide additional information about health risks for abortion.
If the Arizona bill becomes law it will join five other states with a 20-week ban. Nebraska was first in 2010 and last year Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma passed similar bills. Michigan and Georgia are considering bans this year.