The governor of Arizona has signed a sweeping anti-abortion bill prohibiting women from having abortions solely because their fetus has a genetic abnormality such as Down’s syndrome.
Doctors may be charged with a crime if they perform abortions simply because the fetus has a hereditary condition that can be survived. Other protections requested by anti-abortion advocates are also included in the amendment.
The bill passed the Republican-controlled legislature on party-line ballots, despite unanimous Democratic opposition. Doug Ducey, a Republican, is a staunch critic of abortion who has never vetoed anti-abortion bills.
The initial version of the abortion bill made it illegal for a doctor to conduct the procedure if the fetus had a genetic abnormality like Down’s syndrome. It also included several other clauses, including one that gives unborn children full civil rights. Democrats argue that the “personhood” clause is a backdoor way to allow criminal charges to be brought against a woman who has had an abortion.
Aside from the ban on abortions for genetic disorders and the “personhood” amendment, the bill also prohibits the distribution of abortion-inducing drugs through the mail, requires the father or maternal grandparents of a fetus aborted due to a genetic problem to sue, and prohibits the use of public funds to support abortion care organizations.
The bill also prohibits state universities from offering abortion services and mandates that fetal remains be buried or cremated.
The measure was a top priority for the Center for Arizona Policy, a socially conservative organization. Cathi Herrod, the organization’s founder, regularly supports anti-abortion legislation in the legislature. National anti-abortion organizations applauded the bill’s passage.
Herrod sent out a press release with the subject line “Life Wins!” minutes after the governor took action.
On Monday, pro-choice advocates gathered at the Capitol, urging Ducey to veto the bill and presenting him with signatures signed by opponents.
Representative Diego Espinoza of Tolleson, a Democrat, criticized the governor’s decision.
“Governor Ducey’s decision to sign SB1457 is not pro-life. It is anti-families, anti-woman, and anti-doctor,” Espinoza tweeted. “I’m disappointed to see Arizona moving in this direction, ignoring the needs and desires of doctors, women, and families for an extreme political agenda.”
Republican-controlled legislatures in Arizona and many other states have adopted bills this year that would outright prohibit abortion, emboldened by the prospect that a more conservative US Supreme Court would reverse Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision that ruled women have a fundamental right to pursue an abortion. However, an initiative in Arizona to do so has stalled.