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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.

Key Facts

Ducey signed SB 1164 into law after the Arizona House passed it along party lines on March 24 and the state Senate approved it in February.

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.

Big Number

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.

Chief Critic

“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

Florida was the first state this year to pass a 15-week abortion ban but Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has not yet signed it into law, though he has said he intends to.

Key Background

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.

Further Reading

Arizona Legislature approves 15-week abortion ban (Associated Press)

Florida Lawmakers Pass 15-Week Abortion Ban — Other States Will Likely Follow (Forbes)

Florida Lawmakers Latest To Approve 15-Week Abortion Ban—One Day After Arizona And West Virginia (Forbes)

Fla. Republicans ditch Texas-style abortion law for what they call a ‘generous’ 15-week ban, drawing criticism from all sides (Washington Post)

The 19th Explains: 15-week abortion bans are on the verge of passing in three states. What does that mean? (The 19th)

Source: Forbes

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