Ducey signs abortion bill that prohibits a doctor from performing abortions after 15 weeks

Doctors who perform an abortion past the 15 weeks without a medical emergency would be violating the bill and could be charged with a Class 6 felony.
Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 12:08 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Wednesday afternoon that he signed the abortion law bill that would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion after 15 weeks unless it’s a medical emergency.

“In Arizona, we know there is immeasurable value in every life – including preborn life,” said Governor Ducey in a letter. “I believe it is each state’s responsibility to protect them.”

Doctors who perform an abortion past the 15 weeks without a medical emergency would be violating the bill and could be charged with a Class 6 felony if they are convicted and have their license suspended. Women who receive an abortion after 15 weeks will not face any charges.

The new bill has garnered support and opposition from many Arizonans. Cathi Herrod, President of the Center for Arizona Policy, says she is in support of the new bill. “ Governor Ducey signing Senate Bill 1164 is a victory for unborn children and their mothers,” said Herrod. “The new law will protect unborn children at a stage of development when they have fully formed facial features. They can flip in their mothers womb and they can feel pain.”

Kelley Dupps with Planned Parenthood Arizona is among those against the new bill. “I’m heartbroken, disheartened, but we were not surprised. There is not an anti-abortion bill that has crossed Governor Ducey’s desk that he hasn’t signed,” said Dupps. “Basically eliminating those types of exemptions really just eliminates the humanity out of all of this because you’re really just ignoring the circumstances in which someone is presenting themself and saying I would like to access healthcare, and someone who knows nothing about their circumstances is shaming them and stigmatizing them and saying no you can’t.”

Ducey is an abortion opponent who has signed every piece of anti-abortion legislation that has reached his desk since he took office in 2015. He said late last year that he hoped the Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade decision that enshrined the right to abortion. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 92.7 percent of abortions were performed at less than 13 weeks gestation.

Last week, the Arizona Legislature approved the ban stating it would outlaw abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy and has no exceptions for rape or incest. It would also ban abortions for families that learn in pregnancy later on that a fetus is not viable. SB 1164 passed along a party-line vote in the Republican-controlled House.

Herrod also weighed in on the exception of rape and incest for the new bill. “I can’t imagine the horror of rape or incest; I have great empathy for rape and incest victims; that is a tragedy we all agree with,” said Herrod. “I would say in very rare instances when a woman is a victim of rape or incest, and she becomes pregnant that most, if not all, women will have made a decision on whether or not to have an abortion before 15 weeks. So I don’t really see the 15-week limit having an impact in that situation.”

However, Dupps had a different opinion on the 15-week marker. “Making that marker at 15 weeks, many people don’t know that they are pregnant until six or seven weeks into the process, so you are really shortening that window that folks are able to make decisions about their life,” said Dupps. “I think it’s really important to not just see this as an anti-abortion law that was signed today, but it was really this collective anti-person anti-Arizonan day that was really underpinning our ability to live our lives the way we want to.”

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed bills regarding elections, transgender youth, and abortion on Wednesday.

Arizona already had some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws, including one that would automatically outlaw it if the high court fully overturns Roe v. Wade, the nearly five-decade-old ruling that enshrined a nationwide right to abortion. Republicans hope to put the 15-week ban in place so it takes effect quickly if the Supreme Court further limits abortion rights but stops short of fully overturning Roe. The measure closely mirrors the Mississippi law.

Ducey’s signing letter was sent to Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, an abortion rights supporter who is seeking her party’s nomination in November’s election to replace Ducey, who is term-limited.

“Today marks a giant step backward in the fight for equality for women across Arizona and across the country,” Hobbs said in a statement. “With Governor Ducey’s signature, our elected leaders have chosen to side with the extremists in their party and turn their backs on the overwhelming majority of Arizonans who support the constitutional right to choose.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona (ACLU) policy director Darrell Hill posted a statement on Twitter regarding the bill on Wednesday evening.

“A vast majority of Arizonans believe in the right to abortion and want to ensure trans youth have every opportunity to thrive. The legislators who supported these bills know that their transphobic, anti-choice agenda is misaligned with the will of their constituents. Simultaneously passing voting restrictions is an easy solution to carry on without answering to the people they are supposed to represent. We stand with our community to hold the elected officials behind these unconstitutional attacks accountable – including Governor Ducey.”