PHOENIX — Rejecting arguments that it is improper state intrusion, the state Senate voted Thursday to ban all abortions at or beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy except in cases of emergency.
HB 2036 is based on the premise that a fetus is sufficiently developed to be able to experience pain at that point in development. Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, cited testimony of a doctor who said that a 20-week fetus has sensory receptors all over its body.
Barto also said there is evidence that the later along a pregnancy, the greater the chance of complications for the mother.
But Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Phoenix, said that is just a ruse. She said the real aim of proponents is to make it more difficult for women to exercise their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, something she said is none of the business of lawmakers.
“We are not physicians, we are not scientists. We need to stay out of people's bedrooms, out of the medical examining rooms and out of people's lives,”
She chided supporters who have said they want less government intrusion into private lives.
But supporters said this is different.
Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, detailed what happens at different stages of fetal development.
“This debate is about life and it's about a small tiny little life form that has no voice to speak for itself.” Allen also said that, as a woman, this is not an improper intrusion into the rights of women.
Aside from the criminal penalties for an abortion at 20 weeks or beyond, including a possible six-month jail term, the legislation contains new requirements for what a doctor would have to tell a woman prior to an abortion. That includes not only medical information but that the state has a website that lists services to assist a woman and her unborn child and contact information for adoption agencies willing to place newborns.
Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford, D-Tucson, said if lawmakers are so concerned about informed patients, they should not limit that to women seeking an abortion.
She proposed that any man who wants a prescription for a drug to treat erectile dysfunction must first go to a doctor at least 24 hours ahead of time — a time frame that mirrors a provision in existing law for a woman who wants an abortion.