The Arizona Legislature has approved a ban on abortions after 15 weeks with few exceptions, a bill that closely resembles the Mississippi ban currently under consideration by the Supreme Court.
The bill heads to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who is expected to sign it into law. Like the Mississippi law currently in contention, the Arizona bill makes very narrow exceptions for medical emergencies in which the mother’s life is in danger but not for cases of rape or incest. The 15-week ban passed the Arizona House on Thursday on a party-line vote about a month after it passed out of the Senate.
“It is a very personal decision as to whether or not a family decides to grow their family but that decision should be made with the pregnant individual and their medical professionals, not the government,” said Rep. Jennifer Pawlik, a Democrat in the state House.
Arizona’s 15-week ban is one of two state efforts to mirror the law in contention in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The other state legislature to pass a similar 15-week ban recently is in Florida, whose governor, Ron DeSantis, is expected to sign it into law. If he does and the law is not successfully challenged in the courts, it is slated to go into effect on July 1.
The Supreme Court will rule in June whether states can ban abortion before viability, the point at which survival is possible outside the womb — estimated to be between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. Upholding the Mississippi law would effectively nullify the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion procedures.
“This bill isn't going to end abortion. It is going to end safe access to abortion in Arizona,” said Minority Leader Rep. Jen Longdon on the House floor Thursday.
Red state lawmakers, emboldened by the prospect of the majority-conservative court ruling in their favor, have introduced a wave of anti-abortion measures that would survive in a post-Roe society.
The news out of Arizona’s Legislature comes on the heels of an anti-abortion rights victory in Idaho on Wednesday. Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, signed a ban on abortion into law that has an enforcement mechanism similar to that of the high-profile Texas ban known as S.B. 8. The new law bans the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks into gestation, and any relative of “a preborn child” — such as the father, grandparents, aunt, uncle, or sibling — is entitled to sue the doctor who performs the procedure for a reward of at least $20,000 plus legal fees.
The Texas law’s enforcement mechanism, which has stumped the courts’ efforts to block it, differs from the new law in Idaho. Anyone in Texas who is believed to have aided or abetted in an abortion procedure, from the healthcare provider to the Uber driver, is susceptible to civil lawsuits from anyone in the state who believes the law has been violated. Successful suits in Texas can win up to $10,000 plus legal fees.
Earlier this week, the Oklahoma state House passed a similar measure that would ban abortions at the point a heartbeat can be detected with a similar enforcement mechanism to Texas's and Idaho's laws. It would be enforced by private civil lawsuits, allowing someone who is not a government official to bring a civil case against anyone performing, aiding, or intending to assist an abortion procedure. The court may award plaintiffs at least $10,000 for each abortion the defendant performed or in which they assisted the process. The only exception the Oklahoma bill provides is for abortions "performed to save the life of the mother."