An Arizona Senate committee voted in favor of a bill Thursday that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The bill comes amidst the much-anticipated Supreme Court decision on Mississippi’s abortion law, which has the potential to drastically transform abortion rights in the US.
The Republican-led committee passed Senate Bill 1164 with a vote of 5-3. The bill mirrors the Mississippi law, making it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion after 15-weeks of pregnancy, putting them at risk of felony charges and loss of their licenses to practice medicine. The bill contains an exception in cases of “medical emergency” where a pregnant person is at risk of death or “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” without an abortion. The bill would not criminalize women for receiving an abortion in any case.
In coming to their decision, the committee heard from numerous members of the public on both sides of the issue. Marilyn Rodriguez, representing Planned Parenthood, said that “as long as there are unwanted pregnancies, there will be abortions,” and that “[f]olks with privilege . . . will always have the means to travel abroad to places where abortion is safe and legal.” Rodriquez contended that the Arizona legislature was “voting . . . to decide whether those who cannot afford to [travel for abortions] will continue to have the option of safer and legal access to abortions in Arizona”.
Dr. Alan Sawyer, Arizona state director of the American Academy of Medical Ethics, stated that “obstetricians know that later-term abortions correlate with multiple risks to the woman’s health. Senate Bill 1164 sensibly acts to protect women by reducing the risk of maternal trauma and hemorrhage associated with abortion by instituting this gestational age limit at 15 weeks”.
The bill will soon move to a second reading. If passed, it will join other laws across the country that have directly challenged the precedent set by the landmark case Roe v. Wade.