Arizona, Idaho Governors Sign Restrictive Anti-Abortion Bills Into Law

The sweeping bill in Arizona targets abortion providers and educational facilities that perform research, while the Idaho bill effectively bans abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy.

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

(CN) — Two Republican governors signed anti-abortion bills into law Tuesday, criminalizing abortions based on genetic abnormalities in Arizona and banning abortions in Idaho after a fetus’ heartbeat is detected.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill criminalizing abortions based on genetic abnormalities, like Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis unless a “lethal fetal condition” is involved.

Under Senate Bill 1457, medical providers who perform these abortions face a class 6 felony and a one-year prison sentence.

“There’s immeasurable value in every single life – regardless of genetic makeup,” Ducey said in a statement. “We will continue to prioritize protecting life in our preborn children, and this legislation goes a long way in protecting real human lives.”

Doctors also may not mail or deliver abortion drugs to patients and fetal remains are required to be cremated or buried under the law.

The bill also bans public educational facilities from providing abortions unless the mother’s health is at risk and the use of public funds for research using “fetal remains from an abortion or human somatic cell nuclear transfer.”

Ducey thanked the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, for her work on the bill and touted Arizona as one of the most “pro-life states in the nation.

Idaho became the latest state to ban abortions after a fetus’ heartbeat is detected after Governor Brad Little signed a bill into law that critics say essentially makes the health procedure illegal.

The bill known as the Fetal Heartbeat Preborn Child Protection Act passed the Republican-controlled Idaho Senate last week 25-7. Under the bill, abortion providers face prison sentences of up to five years and can face lawsuits from their patients who receive the procedure.

“Idaho is a state that values the most innocent of all lives — the lives of babies,” Little said in a statement following the signing. “We should never relent in our efforts to protect the lives of the preborn. Hundreds and hundreds of babies lose their lives every year in Idaho due to abortion, an absolute tragedy.”

The measure offers exceptions for medical emergencies, rape or incest, but opponents say these exceptions are either too vague or are virtually impossible to qualify for. They also note fetal cardiac activity can be detected before many women even know they’re pregnant.

For one, opponents point out that fetal cardiac activity can be detected well before many women even learn they are pregnant, sometimes as early as the first five or six weeks of the pregnancy.

In the case of rape, the bill’s opponents say Idaho law officials are not allowed to release police reports for active investigations, making efforts to qualify for the exceptions an almost impossible legal hurdle for rape victims to cross.

The bill, however, is not set to go into effect right away. The bill contains a trigger provision that will only put the legislation into action if a similar ban passes muster in court.

While this puts the future of Idaho’s new anti-abortion measure into uncertain territory, several other states have already passed similar bills — and have frequently been blocked by courts. In 2019, a judge blocked a similar law in Georgia, and this past February a judge put a stop to South Carolina’s attempt at a fetal heartbeat bill a day after it was signed into law.

This is not the first time Idaho lawmakers have relied on a trigger provision in their abortion legislation. Last year, Idaho lawmakers passed a trigger bill that would effectively ban all abortions in the state in the event the landmark Roe v. Wade is ever overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Both bills come at a time when the future of abortion rights in the United States is shakier than it’s ever been thanks to a major ideological shakeup at the Supreme Court during the Trump administration. Supporters of Idaho’s abortion legislation — and others like it — have said they would like to see the legal fight over these bills ultimately land in the high court, which now boasts a 6-3 conservative majority following the appointments of Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett on Trump’s watch.

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