Arizona Governor Approves Abortion Constraints
PHOENIX - Republican Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday set a new course from her Democratic predecessor on the issue of abortion, signing a measure imposing new mandates and restrictions.
One of the bill's provisions is a requirement that those who visit an abortion provider wait 24 hours before getting an abortion. The visit would have to include disclosures by doctors in person about the procedure, risks and alternatives, and the fetus' probable characteristics.
Also, an existing law on parental approval for minors seeking to end pregnancies would be toughened. In addition, pharmacists and other health care providers will be able to refuse to hand out emergency contraception on moral or religious grounds.
Former Gov. Janet Napolitano, who was governor for six years, vetoed all bills sent to her that restricted abortion rights. Brewer replaced her in January.
The head of a group lobbying for the bill on behalf of Christian social conservatives said the signing shows Brewer "stands for life" and caps a 13-year effort for passage of so-called "informed consent" legislation.
"Governor Brewer's signatures today move Arizona in the right direction," said Cathi Herrod, president of the Scottsdale-based Center for Arizona Policy.
Planned Parenthood's Arizona affiliate, which provides abortion services and which opposed the bill, said it "creates barriers, increases costs and denies access to services and providers to women who seek abortion care."
Said Bryan Howard, the affiliate's president: "Women will be forced to delay their care, in turn increasing their health risks."
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 28 other states require waiting periods - typically 24 hours - while 33 require some form of counseling. All those states waive the waiting period requirement in a medical emergency or when the woman's life or health is threatened, according to the NCSL.
Brewer also signed a measure that revises a state law that outlaws a type of late-term abortion unless the procedure is necessary to save the mother's life.
Critics call the procedure, which involves partially delivering a fetus before aborting it, a "partial-birth abortion."
A state law on late-term abortions was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in October 1997. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, in 2007 upheld a federal version, and the state legislation is intended to conform the 1997 state law to the federal statute.
Changes include specifying a punishment of up to two years in prison and allowing a doctor charged under the law to seek a hearing before a state regulatory board to determine if the doctor's conduct was necessary to save the mother's life.
Bill supporters said enactment of a new state law would enable local authorities to enforce the prohibition.