The Arizona legislature on Tuesday passed two bills regulating abortion in the state and sent them to Gov. Janet Napolitano for her consideration.
One bill clarified the circumstances that override the need for a minor seeking an abortion to obtain parental consent, while the other bill established state penalties for partial-birth abortion.
House Bill 2769 builds on a federal law outlawing partial-birth abortions. It makes performing the procedure a Class 5 felony, which cannot be pleaded down to a misdemeanor.
Senator Linda Gray described in detail on the Senate floor how a partial-birth abortion is performed. “This is a horrible, horrible procedure,” she said.
Ron Johnson, Executive Director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, called the bill “important pro-life legislation.” He said a state ban was needed so that Arizona citizens did not have to rely upon the United States Justice Department to prosecute violators.
“Additionally,” Johnson said, “a state ban is helpful because federal prosecutors attempting to enforce the current partial birth abortion ban must first show that interstate commerce is somehow impacted.”
Senator Paula Aboud said the bill "claims to copy the federal law but it goes too far." She said it creates a situation where a doctor could be prosecuted under both state and federal law.
The other bill, House Bill 2263, outlined the critera a judge should consider when deciding if there is “clear and convincing” evidence that a minor has the maturity to undergo an abortion without parental consent. A judge can consider whether the minor has worked and lived outside the home, handled her personal finances, or made other significant decisions on her own.
Senator Aboud criticized the bill for burdening minors already in a difficult position. "For some, speaking to their parents is not an option," she said.
"It is not changing the law or adding any new burdens," said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative think tank.
The Arizona House of Representatives also approved a bill that bars nurses from performing surgical abortions.
The bills now require the approval of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. She has vetoed other abortion laws in the past, including one involving parental consent for minors.