PHOENIX (CN) – The Arizona Legislature approved a bill banning most abortions at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy, citing alleged “strong medical evidence that unborn children feel pain during an abortion at that gestational age.”
House Bill 2036 bans “abortions at or after 20 weeks of gestation, except in cases of a medical emergency, based on the documented risks to women’s health and the strong medical evidence that unborn children feel pain during an abortion at that gestational age.”
The bill now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer to sign.
Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, a Tucson Democrat, voted against the bill, which passed the House 37-22, after it was approved by the Senate.
“I believe it is wrong for us legislators to be making decisions for women and their right to manage and have control of their own bodies, and also what this legislation does to the protection of the doctors taking care of them,” Gonzales said. “This decision to have an abortion is a personal one.”
HB 2036 requires that the Department of Health Services “maintain a website that describes the unborn child and lists the agencies that offer alternatives to abortion.”
It requires that physicians performing surgical abortions have privileges in a hospital within 30 miles from the place where the abortion is done.
Rep. Steve Montenegro, a Litchfield Park Republican and speaker pro tempore, voted for the bill.
“I can’t fathom anyone protecting murder after 20 weeks,” Montenegro said. “With all due respect, doctors do not have the final say in life.”
The bill requires that an ultrasound be performed 24 hours before the abortion, and the woman be given the opportunity to “view the active ultrasound image of the unborn child and hear the heartbeat of the unborn child if the heartbeat is audible.” A physician is subject to license suspension, revocation or civil action if this stipulation is not complied with.
The vote was not passed along party lines.
Rep. Cecil Ash, a Mesa Republican, said this is not a decision for the Legislature.
“Most women that have reached the 20th week of pregnancy have already made the decision of life,” Ash said, in voting No. “Let’s not get involved in practicing medicine.”
The bill requires that a clinic “clearly post signs that are visible to all who enter the abortion clinic, that are clearly readable and that state it is unlawful for any person to force a woman to have an abortion and a woman who is being forced to have an abortion has the right to contact any local or state law enforcement or social service agency to receive protection from any actual or threatened physical, emotional or psychological abuse.”
Rep. David Burnell Smith, a Scottsdale Republican, said that it’s bad policy to have abortions after 20 weeks.
“We are making a policy that no abortion is good after 20 weeks, unless it is a medical emergency,” he said, voting in favor of the bill.
The bill states that a doctor who performs an abortion on a minor without certification that the pregnancy places the minor’s health at risk or “that the pregnancy resulted from sexual conduct with a minor by the minor’s parent, stepparent, uncle, grandparent, sibling, adoptive parent, legal guardian or foster parent or by a person who lives in the same household with the minor and the minor’s mother” is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.
HB 2036 was sponsored by Rep. Kimberly Yee, a Phoenix Republican.