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AZ House Passes Controversial Anti-Abortion Bill

In a 37-22 vote, the Arizona House approved a controversial anti-abortion bill on Tuesday that generally bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, The Associated Press reports.

Six other states, including Nebraska, have previously enacted similar laws banning abortions after 20 weeks, but the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project has called Arizona’s the “most extreme bill of its kind,” Mother Jones notes.

Like the six other anti-abortion laws passed, the Arizona bill is modeled on the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” designed by the National Right to Life Committee. However, reproductive rights advocates have pointed out that Arizona’s bill is actually more restrictive than those of the other states.

Unlike other anti-abortion laws, the Arizona bill states that the 20-week period should be “calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman.” Commentators have noted that, under this scheme, the law would actually be prohibiting abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy in some situations. Current laws prohibit abortions past the point of fetal viability, generally considered to be from 22 to 24 weeks.

Although the bill allows an exception if the pregnancy threatens the life of a woman, it allows no exceptions in situations where a fetus is found to have a life-threatening condition or other severe impairment. The bill also requires that a pregnant woman submit to a mandatory ultrasound, during which the doctor must describe to her the development of the fetus and provide her with a photo of the fetus.

The anti-abortion bill now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer to either sign or veto. It’s likely that the governor, a Republican, will sign the bill into law, as she has previously approved anti-abortion legislation.

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