Abortion and Arizona: State Senate passes 15-week pro-life law

A protester walks around the grounds of the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona June 25, 2012. (Darryl Webb/Reuters)

Yesterday, in a 16-13 vote, the Arizona Senate passed a pro-life measure protecting unborn children from abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, except in medical emergencies. The text of the bill defines “medical emergency” as “a condition which, based on the bona fide clinical judgment of a physician, so complicates the medical condition of a pregnant woman as to necessitate immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avoid her death or for which a delay will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible damage to a major bodily function.

The Arizona measure also contains strict provisions to ensure accurate reporting of abortions performed after 15 weeks, in order to track compliance with the policy once it becomes law. The bill requires abortionists to file a report with the state Department of Health for any abortion after 15 weeks, including information such as the method of abortion used, the gestational age of the child at be born, a statement that the abortion was necessary due to a medical emergency, and the specific medical indications involved in that determination.

Then the measure heads to the House of Representatives, where Republicans have a slight majority, and where the bill is expected to pass. Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed every pro-life piece of legislation that has passed through his office and is expected to sign this one as well. Current Arizona law prohibits abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation, although there are abortion clinics in the state that advertise themselves as providers of abortions after that point.

Arizona’s bill is similar to the politics at play in the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, given the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. State legislatures across the country have, like Arizona, worked to pass more protective laws for unborn children in anticipation of a court ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade and Family planning c. Caseyallowing states to enact effective restrictions on abortion for the first time in decades.