Abortion beyond 15 weeks of pregnancy is now illegal in Arizona, according to a vote by Republicans who control the state Senate. The vote comes ahead of a highly anticipated Supreme Court decision that may have far-reaching implications for abortion access in the United States.
Over the protests of minority Democrats who said the legislation violated the Constitution in light of the historic Roe v. Wade decision and other Supreme Court judgments that the high court may reverse, the measure passed.
They also said that any ban would disproportionately affect poor and minority women, who could not travel to Democratic states that do not have tight abortion restrictions.
However, Sen. Nancy Barto, the Republican sponsor of the bill, expressed confidence that the Supreme Court would maintain a Mississippi statute prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which the court is now considering.
As Barto said during the discussion, “the state has a responsibility to preserve life, and that is what this law is about.” An unborn child who is 15 weeks old has a completely developed nose, lips, and eyelids; they suck their thumbs and have fully formed teeth. They are experiencing discomfort. That is the purpose of this legislation.”
Arizona already has some of the most stringent abortion laws in the country, including one that would immediately criminalize the procedure if the Supreme Court ultimately overturned Roe v. Wade. This almost five-decade-old decision established a national right to abortion in the United States.
Republicans seek to put the 15-week ban in place as soon as possible so that it may take effect as soon as possible if the Supreme Court restricts abortion rights further but does not go so far as to invalidate Roe v. Wade.
The legislation is quite similar to the Mississippi statute. By current abortion laws, abortion is permitted until the fetus can live outside of the womb, normally at roughly 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Democratic Sen. Martin Quezada pressed Barto on the current law situation, enshrined in Roe v. Wade and a succession of subsequent rulings recognizing a woman’s right to an abortion.
From the other side of the aisle, Quezada added, “I understand your expectations about what the Supreme Court will do.” “However, as it stands today, is this statute constitutional or not?” says the speaker.
“I think that is the case. “I think that is the case,” Barto said. “I think our constitution is unambiguously in favor of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, with life being the first and most important of these principles.”
Quezada, who represents sections of Glendale, believes this is completely incorrect.
As he put it, “If we’re going to wait and see what the Supreme Court does, let’s wait and see what the Supreme Court does before we start attempting to amend these laws.”
“If you don’t, you’re causing us to spin our wheels right now.” He also said that the 15-week prohibition would harm low-income Arizonans who already have difficulty accessing healthcare.
The president said, “instead of making this sort of health care more available to these individuals, we’re making it more difficult for them to obtain access to.” “So the fact is that we’re making life more difficult for the folks in our society who most need our assistance.”
The measure will now be introduced in the state House, where most Republicans have always supported abortion restrictions. It will be sent to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk if it passes there.
According to his website, the Republican is strongly opposed to abortion and has signed every abortion-related law that has come to his desk in the last seven legislative sessions.
Barto’s plan would make it illegal for a doctor to conduct an abortion after 15 weeks, but it would prevent women from being prosecuted if they want to have an abortion. Doctors might face criminal charges and lose their ability to practice medicine if found guilty.
If the mother is a danger of death or significant permanent disability, there is an exemption, but not if the mother is the victim of rape or incest.
According to the most recent statistics from the Arizona Department of Health Services, 636 abortions were done in 2020, representing a quarter of the 13,186 abortions conducted in the state in 2019.
A proposal in Arizona to duplicate a Texas legislation that essentially prohibits abortions after six weeks has also been submitted but has not progressed further in the Legislature.
Individuals may pursue civil lawsuits against anybody who assists someone else in getting an abortion after six weeks under the provisions of the legislation, which is unique in the country. Legal challenges have been more difficult since the government is not engaged in enforcement.