Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed into law a bill that bans most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, saying it protects women and the unborn.
“This legislation is consistent with my strong track record of supporting common sense measures to protect the health of women and safeguard our most vulnerable population – the unborn,” Gov. Brewer said April 12.
“Knowing that abortions become riskier the later they are performed in pregnancy,” she said, “it only makes sense to prohibit these procedures past twenty weeks.”
The legislation, H.B. 2036, bars abortion in cases where the unborn child is 20 weeks or older, except when the life or health of the mother is at risk.
The legislation makes Arizona the first state to prohibit late-term abortion on the grounds it presents greater risks to women’s health.
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, praised the new law.
“This ban will protect women’s lives, despite the best efforts of the abortion industry to block reasonable limits on a procedure that becomes more dangerous with each passing week” of an unborn child’s life.
She said the measure ensures that women do not suffer from “the risks of a dangerous, late-term procedure.”
The law passed the Arizona Senate by a vote of 20 to 10 and the Arizona House of Representatives by a vote of 37 to 22, with some Democrats in support and some Republicans opposed.
State Rep. Kimberly Yee, a Republican from Phoenix who co-sponsored the legislation, said the bill strengthens Arizona laws that protect “the health and safety of women” and it “recognizes the precious life of the preborn baby.”
Rep. Cecil Ash, a Republican from Mesa, voted against the bill. He cited cases of fetal abnormality as a reason for his vote.
“This bill crosses the line from setting policy to practicing medicine,” he said, according to the Arizona Republic. “Most women who have reached the 20th week, or fifth month, of pregnancy have already made the decision in favor of life.”
Glendale Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko, supported the bill on pro-life grounds.
“Is the baby inside a woman's body a human?” she said. “My answer, I believe, is yes. It is unacceptable to end the life of a human.”
Americans United for Life said the new law is based on its model legislation.
“Arizona is leading the nation in enacting this new law that shows concern for both mother and child,” Yoest said. “The abortion industry's war on women has left many injured people behind.”
About 200 abortions on women more than 20 weeks pregnant took place in 2011, according to the Center for Arizona Policy, a backer of the legislation.
Other provisions in the legislation strengthen existing parental consent and informed consent regulations. The law requires that women seeking abortion receive an ultrasound at least 24 hours in advance of the procedure. It additionally requires state officials to create a website with facts about fetal development and abortion risks.
The law also stipulates that abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic in the event of abortion-related complications.