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Arizona House panel OKs bill to limit partial birth abortions

PHOENIX – Advocates and Republican lawmakers said Wednesday they hope Jan Brewer’s rise to the Governor’s Office will mean a better chance of success for legislation aimed at restricting abortion.

“Gov. Brewer has made it clear that she has different views than Gov. Napolitano did on a number of issues, including the life issue,” said Cathi Herrod, president of Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative think tank.

Herrod made her comments by phone after the House Health and Human Services Committee approved a bill dealing with an abortion procedure sometimes characterized as partial birth. Later in the day, Brewer, a Republican, took the oath of office to replace Democrat Janet Napolitano as governor.

HB 2400 would make it illegal for a doctor to perform the procedure unless it is necessary to prevent a woman’s death or disability. It also would establish a maximum prison term of two years for physicians found guilty of performing the procedure.

Napolitano, who supports abortion rights, twice vetoed similar bills last year. In six years as governor, she also vetoed six other pieces of legislation dealing with abortion, including a bill that would have required a 24-hour waiting period before a woman receives an abortion and another that would have required that parental consent forms for minors to have abortions be notarized.

Bryan Howard, chief executive of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said in a statement that it was the committee’s first meeting under new Republican leadership in the House and Senate as well as the start of Brewer’s term as governor.

“If this is a signal about the weeks and months ahead, our children and our families are going to suffer,” Howard said.

Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, a primary bill sponsor and chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, criticized Napolitano’s vetoes and said that she is confident Brewer would sign the bill.

“Any reasonable governor would have signed the bill and will sign the bill,” Barto said after all six Republicans on the committee recommended approval.

The panel’s three Democrats were not present. Tucson’s Phil Lopes and David Bradley were at the presidential inauguration, Barto said. Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, wasn’t present.

Rep. Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, the House majority whip and a primary sponsor, called the bill “the ultimate health care bill for children.”

“This is a black-and-white issue to me and most Arizonans,” Tobin said. “Let’s be clear: There is nothing that is extreme about this bill. What’s extreme is this procedure.”

Napolitano twice vetoed similar bills, saying they would duplicate federal law. Former President George W. Bush signed a federal ban on the procedure in 2003.

Proponents of HB 2400 say it allows local prosecutors to file charges instead of relying on U.S. attorneys, who must follow the direction of the attorney general.

The federal law also requires prosecutors to establish that the procedure involved interstate commerce.


On the Web

Center for Arizona Policy:


Planned Parenthood Arizona:



HB 2400

Here are key provisions of HB 2400, which deals with a type of abortion sometimes characterized as partial birth:

• Specify a maximum of two years in prison for physicians found guilty of performing the procedure except when it is necessary to prevent a woman’s death or disability.

• Allow a defendant facing trial to request a hearing in front of the state’s physician licensing boards to determine whether the procedure was medically necessary.

• Ban prosecution of women who receive the procedure.

• Allow fathers married to a mother who undergoes the procedure to sue for psychological and physical harm as well as three times the cost of the abortion.

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