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Arizona Measure Bans Abortion After 20 Weeks
MedPageToday, 2012The Arizona legislature has passed a law banning abortions after 20 weeks' gestation and requiring women seeking abortion to undergo an ultrasound at least 24 hours before the procedure.
The Arizona House of Representatives passed the measure, known as HB 2036, Wednesday by a vote of 37 to 22; the Senate passed the bill in March by a 20-10 vote.
The bill now goes to the desk of Republican governor Jan Brewer, who is expected to sign it into law.
The law also requires the physician performing the abortion to inform the patient that the state health department has a website that describes the unborn child and gives a list of agencies offering abortion alternatives.
Women seeking abortions because of a lethal fetal condition must be informed of perinatal hospice services; for those with a nonlethal fetal condition, they must be informed "of up-to-date, evidence-based information regarding the range of outcomes for individuals living with the diagnosed condition, including physical, developmental, educational, and psychosocial outcomes," according to the bill.
Physicians who do not provide this information are subject to license suspension or revocation under the bill.
The required ultrasound can be performed by the physician doing the abortion, by the referring physician, or by a qualified person working with the physician, according to the bill.
The woman must be given an opportunity to view the ultrasound, as well as the opportunity to be provided with an explanation of what the ultrasound shows and an opportunity to get a picture of the ultrasound.
The bill defines gestational age as "the age of the unborn child as calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman" -- a definition that the bill's critics say cuts two weeks off the time during which women can legally get an abortion, since most women don't ovulate until two weeks after their period ends.
Planned Parenthood of Arizona expressed concern about the bill in a press release, saying that it "completely prevents couples from making their own decisions about how to deal with the heartbreaking situation when a pregnancy is determined to involve serious health complications."
In addition, the group noted that physicians "who violate this new package of restrictions on abortion health care, even unknowingly, face criminal prosecution.