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Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Signs Most Extreme Abortion Ban in U.S.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer today signed the most extreme abortion ban in the United States, banning all abortion after 20 weeks with very limited exception.  Like the mandatory ultrasound bill Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed earlier this year, this bill represents an extreme overreach by far-right lawmakers, Planned Parenthood Federation of America said today.

“Politicians should not be involved in a woman’s personal medical decisions about her pregnancy.  Ultimately, decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child must be left to a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “It is important that abortion remains a safe and legal medical procedure for a woman to consider if and when she needs it.”

House Bill 2036 has several damaging provisions that pose a threat to women’s health, but the provision of the bill that bans abortion at 20 weeks is a particularly cruel and dangerous attack on women’s health.  The very narrow exception for medical emergency leaves many scenarios where a woman’s health may be at risk, but where a doctor, for fear of being prosecuted or simply because the health crisis does not rise to the definition of medical emergency, would not be able to offer her care.

For example, as the result of a similar — yet less restrictive — measure passed in Nebraska in 2010, a woman named Danielle Deaver was forced to continue a pregnancy even after a health crisis meant she was going to lose the pregnancy.  In signing the legislation today, Governor Brewer ignored the personal plea of Ms. Deaver, who was forced to live through 10 excruciating days waiting to give birth to a baby that she knew would die minutes later, because her doctors feared prosecution under her state’s 20-week abortion ban.

“Because lawmakers in my home state of Nebraska passed this sweeping abortion ban, my family's personal loss a year and a half ago became a nightmare,” Deaver wrote to Governor Brewer.  “That my pregnancy ended, that choice was made by God.  How to handle the end of my pregnancy, that should have been private.  But the decision that should have remained mine and my husband's at a very difficult time was decided for us — and it was decided by politicians we'd never met.”

Instead of focusing on the real concerns of Arizonans — jobs and the economy — lawmakers have spent a significant amount of time this session pushing bills that could take health care away from Arizona women, Planned Parenthood Federation of America said.

House Bill 2036 was only one bill in a package of anti-women’s health bills pushed by members of the state legislature this year.  Legislators are also pursuing a bill that would allow any employer to refuse to provide health-insurance coverage of birth control for religious reasons to their employees.  This bill would overturn Arizona’s decade-old contraceptive equity law, drafted by Republican former state Representative Linda Binder and signed by Republican and Catholic former Governor Jan Hull.

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Contacts

Planned Parenthood Media Office, 212-261-4433

Published: 04.13.12

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