Arizona’s Extra-Strict Abortion Ban Passes


Arizona lawmakers have approved a bill imposing a number of new restrictions on abortion. The bill sets stricter limits on abortion than other states have to date, limiting abortions to 18 weeks after conception, requiring women to have an ultrasound, and instituting a 24-hour waiting period.

Americans United for Life praised the measure, which was based on their model legislation. Arizona isn’t the first to pass this type of bill, as Nebraska and several other states have also passed bans at 20 weeks gestation on the argument that the fetus can feel pain at that point—a claim that is highly contested.

But Arizona’s law is actually more restrictive than others, as it sets the ban based on the gestational age of the fetus starting on the date of the woman’s last menstrual period rather than on the date of conception, as other state laws have done. That means women would only be able to have an abortion within 18 weeks of actually getting pregnant. Nebraska’s laws stated that the ban was based on the “postfertilization age” of the fetus, and most other states used similar language. Robin Marty at Reproductive Health Reality Check has an excellent explanation of why all these 20-week bans are not the same that’s worth checking out for more background.

Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer still needs to sign the bill into law, but there’s little doubt that she will.

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.