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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed a 15-week abortion ban into law Wednesday, making Arizona the first state to enact such a ban this year—with Florida set to soon follow—as the Supreme Court considers a similar law in Mississippi and appears poised to let it stand.
Ducey said in his signing letter he believes “there is immeasurable value in every life – including preborn life,” and it is “each state’s responsibility to protect them.”
The law outlaws all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy except in the case of medical emergencies, and makes it a felony for doctors to perform abortions in violation of the law.
The law won’t stop Arizona from going further in banning abortion if the Supreme Court allows it to, as a provision in the law ensures the 15-week ban won’t supersede an existing Arizona law that outlaws abortion entirely if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
636. That’s the number of abortions in Arizona that were performed after 15 weeks in 2020, according to the state health department, out of 13,186 in total. Though post-15 week abortions make up only a minority of those performed, abortion advocates argue it’s still important to have the procedure accessible then, noting those seeking abortions after 15 weeks are often minors, people who didn’t have access to care sooner or those with health complications that only emerged later into the pregnancy.
“The people of Arizona don’t want this abortion ban. Medical professionals in Arizona are against this ban. Nobody asked for this,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement Wednesday. “But Arizona politicians — including the governor today — are willfully ignoring both public opinion and science with the sole goal of stripping constituents of their constitutional rights.”
What To Watch For
Arizona is one of a slew of GOP-led states to pass abortion restrictions in recent months, as the Supreme Court considers whether to roll back abortion rights nationwide. The court is currently deliberating whether to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and let states restrict abortion even before the fetus is viable, which could result in the 6-3 conservative court overturning Roe v. Wade entirely. Though many states are going even further than 15-week bans with measures that ban abortions entirely or earlier in the pregnancy, the Washington Post reports 15-week bans have become attractive to many anti-abortion lawmakers, as they seem more “reasonable” and draw less controversy than more significant restrictions, and will stand even if the Supreme Court just sides with Mississippi and doesn’t overturn Roe v. Wade entirely. Besides Arizona and Florida, West Virginia is expected to follow after the state’s House of Delegates passed 15-week legislation in February.
Arizona Legislature approves 15-week abortion ban (Associated Press)