The Arizona Legislature approved a ban on abortion 15 weeks later
PHOENIX – The Arizona Legislature on Thursday joined the growing list of Republican-led states to pass aggressive anti-abortion legislation as the conservative U.S. Supreme Court has been considering restoring abortion rights for nearly 50 years.
The House voted in the party line to make abortion illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a Mississippi law is now being considered by the country’s high court.
The bill explicitly states that it will not repeal state law for more than 100 years that would have directly banned abortion if the Supreme Court had overturned Rowe v. Wade, a 1973 lawsuit that included the right to abortion in law.
The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Doug Dussey, an anti-abortionist who has signed every part of the anti-abortion law since taking office in 2015 that has reached his desk.
Florida lawmakers passed a similar 15-week abortion ban earlier this month that is expected to be signed by Republican Gov. Ron Desantis. A bill in West Virginia failed to pass in the state Senate when it passed earlier this month after its legislature passed the House.
An Arizona proposal that would make abortion illegal after about six weeks. A bill passed in Texas last year allowed the ban on private citizens to take effect, and the Supreme Court refused to block it. The governor of Idaho signed a copycat bill this week. These measures are unique in that they allow private citizens to file a civil lawsuit against someone who helps someone else have an abortion after six weeks. This has made legal challenges difficult because the government is not involved in enforcement.
The Arizona 15-Week Abortion Prohibition Bill makes no exceptions for rape or incest or medical emergencies.
Republican supporters said very little during the floor debate.
Minority Democrats say the measure is unconstitutional and that any ban would inevitably affect poor and minority women who cannot travel to the state without strict abortion laws.
But Sen. Nancy Barto, a Republican supporter of the bill, said she hoped the High Court would uphold the law banning abortion 15 weeks after Mississippi.
“The state has an obligation to save lives, and that’s what this bill is about,” Barto said during a Senate debate last month.
The debate over the 15-week abortion ban and the vote came the same morning that the House also debated banning transgender girls from playing in high school or college sports teams that matched their gender identities. The House voted Thursday to pass a bill banning gender reassignment surgery for those under 18.
Arizona already has one of the most prohibited abortion laws in the country, one of which would automatically make it illegal if the High Court overturned the ban altogether.
Republicans hope to impose a 15-week ban so that the Supreme Court can further limit the right to abortion, but it can take effect sooner rather than later if Roque is repealed. The measurements closely reflect Mississippi law.
Under current abortion rules, abortion is legal as long as a fetus survives outside the womb, which is usually around 24 weeks.
Barto’s bill makes it an offense for a doctor to have an abortion after 15 weeks, but would prohibit the trial of pregnant women for an adoption. Doctors can face criminal charges and lose their license to practice drugs. There is an exception to the risk of maternal death or serious permanent injury, but not to rape or incest.
Of the 13,186 abortions performed in Arizona in 2020, 636 occurred 15 weeks after pregnancy, according to the latest data from the Arizona Department of Health Services.