Arizona Senate Approves 15-Week Abortion Ban

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The Arizona Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to ban abortions after 15 weeks.

The vote was 16–13 on party lines in the GOP-controlled upper chamber, with all Democrats opposed to the bill.

Senate Bill 1164 (pdf) now moves to the state House, which is also controlled by Republicans. If passed, the bill will go to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk. Ducey, a Republican, opposes abortion.

Under the measure, if enacted, doctors who carry out an abortion after 15 weeks could potentially be sentenced to a year in prison and have their medical licenses revoked.

Text of the proposed legislation reads: “Except in a medical emergency, a physician may not intentionally or knowingly perform, induce or attempt to perform or induce an abortion if the probable gestational age of the unborn human being has been determined to be greater than fifteen weeks.”

The measure doesn’t have any exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

“The baby inside of a woman is a separate life and needs to be protected,” state Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix), a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement, reported “All life is sacred.”

“The state has an obligation to protect life, and that is what this bill is about,” Barto said during debate, reported The Associated Press. “A 15-week-old baby in the womb has a fully formed nose, lips, eyelids, they suck their thumbs. They feel pain. That’s what this bill is about.”

The proposed bill could potentially prevent hundreds of abortions in Arizona every year. Per state health statistics (pdf), 669 unborn babies were aborted at 16 weeks or later in 2019.

Democrats argued the bill was unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade. The 1973 ruling prohibited states from banning abortions prior to when the fetus is considered “viable”—that is, potentially able to live outside its mother’s womb—deemed at the time usually around the second trimester of pregnancy at 24 weeks.

By Mimi Nguyen Ly

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