PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill on Tuesday that bans abortions based on if the child has a survivable genetic issue such as Down syndrome. "Every life holds immeasurable value — regardless of genetic makeup," Ducey said in a tweet. "Arizona remains among the top pro-life states in the nation, and my sincere thanks goes to Sen. Nancy Barto for her leadership and work on this life-saving issue and to those who supported this bill." Ducey has never vetoed a piece of anti-abortion legislation.
The proposal faced an up and down battle through the state Legislature. The measure failed in the Senate earlier this month but then the Republican-controlled House and Senate agreed to amend the bill to satisfy concerns of a lone GOP senator who apposed it. Democrats said the bill was part of a larger campaign to stigmatize abortion, while Republicans said it was about the right to life.
"This is truly a sad day in Arizona," state Rep. Jennifer Longdon, a Democrat representing District 24, said in a tweet. "Gov. Ducey’s decision to sign SB1457 is not pro-life. It is anti-families, anti-woman, and anti-doctor,” Democratic state Rep. Diego Espinoza of Tolleson tweeted. “I’m disappointed to see Arizona moving in this direction, ignoring the needs and desires of doctors, women, and families for an extreme political agenda."
"Arizona children diagnosed with disabilities prior to birth will no longer be discriminated against," said Cathi Herrod, president of the social conservative group Center of Arizona Policy, who supported the bill and made it a top priority for them.
The sweeping anti-abortion bill has other provisions, including one that confers all civil rights to unborn children. Democrats call that “personhood” provision a backdoor way to allow criminal charges against a woman who has an abortion.
In addition to the ban on abortions for genetic abnormalities and the “personhood” provision, the bill bans mail delivery of abortion-inducing medication, allows the father or maternal grandparents of a fetus aborted due to a genetic issue to sue, and bans the spending of any state money toward organizations that provide abortion care.
The measure also requires fetal remains to be buried or cremated, and it forbids state universities from providing abortion care.
"It’s a really disappointing day for Arizonans throughout our state," said Murphy Bannerman, with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. Bannerman said her organization tried to persuade the governor this bill isn't fair or right for those making a difficult choice for their families.
"Yesterday we dropped off a petition of over 2,000 signatures urging the governor to veto this bill," she said. "There are number of reasons why people make these choices. It’s not black and white, and it’s frustrating because it’s using the disability community really as a pawn."
On the flip side, pro-life pastor Jeff Durbin with Apologia Church said this bill doesn't go far enough at all, only protecting fetuses with abnormalities from abortion but not others.
"We think that all humans deserve protection, justice, and dignity, and we wanted to see something of equal protection for all humans," he said.
Durbin said even though some pro-lifers are celebrating this bill, he believes it's doing a disservice to any Arizonans who believe abortion is wrong all together.
"This bill was not courageous. I would actually call this bill an act of cowardice, and I would also call this bill a treacherous bill because it actually worked the opposite direction in which pro-lifers say they want to go," Durbin said.