GOP-controlled Arizona Senate passes 15-week abortion ban

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Republicans who control the Arizona Senate have approved the abortion ban after 15 weeks

PHOENIX — Republicans who control the Arizona Senate voted on Tuesday to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, set to implement a new ban ahead of a much-anticipated U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could bring seismic changes to the availability of abortion in the United States.

The vote came over objections from minority Democrats who said the measure was unconstitutional under the landmark Roe v Wade and other Supreme Court rulings that the High Court could overturn. They also said any ban would disproportionately impact poor and minority women who will not be able to travel to Democratic states without strong abortion laws.

But Senator Nancy Barto, the Republican sponsor of the bill, said she hopes the High Court will uphold a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks that she is now weighing.

“The state has an obligation to protect life, and that’s what it’s all about,” Barto said during the debate. “A 15-week-old baby in the womb has a fully formed nose, lips, eyelids, sucks his thumb. They feel pain. That’s what this bill is about.

Arizona already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, including one that would automatically ban it if the High Court completely overturns Roe, the nearly five-decade-old ruling that enshrined a national right to abortion. abortion.

Republicans hope to put the 15-week ban in place so that it takes effect quickly if the Supreme Court further limits abortion rights but stops short of overturning Roe altogether. The measure closely mirrors Mississippi law.

Under current abortion rulings, abortion is legal until a fetus can survive outside the womb, which is usually around 24 weeks.

Democratic Senator Martin Quezada pushed Barto on the state of the law today, with Roe and a series of follow-up rulings enshrining a woman’s right to an abortion.

“I understand the hopes of what the Supreme Court will do on your side of the aisle,” Quezada said. “But as it stands, is this law constitutional or not?”

” I think so. I believe so,” Barto said. “I believe our constitution clearly represents life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and the first part of that is life.”

Quezada, who represents parts of Glendale, said that was simply untrue.

“If we wait to see what the Supreme Court does, let’s wait to see what the Supreme Court actually does before we start trying to change these laws,” he said. “Otherwise you’re spinning our wheels right now.”

The bill is now moving to the State House, where majority Republicans also regularly support abortion restrictions. If he’s been there, he’s going to the governor’s office, Doug Ducey. The Republican opposes abortion and has signed every related bill that has reached his office in the past seven sessions.

Barto’s bill would make it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion after 15 weeks, but would make it illegal to prosecute women for having one. Doctors could face felony charges and lose their license to practice medicine. There is an exception for cases where the mother risks death or serious permanent harm, but not for cases of rape or incest.

Of the 13,186 abortions performed in Arizona in 2020, 636 took place after 15 weeks of pregnancy, according to the latest data from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

A proposal to mirror a Texas law that effectively bans abortions after six weeks has also been introduced in Arizona but has not advanced through the legislature. The measure is unique in that it allows private citizens to bring civil suits against anyone who helps someone else get an abortion after six weeks. This has made legal challenges difficult because the government is not involved in law enforcement.

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