Arizona senate votes to ban abortions after 20 weeks - East Valley Tribune: Health

Arizona senate votes to ban abortions after 20 weeks

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Posted: Thursday, March 22, 2012 5:51 pm | Updated: 10:01 am, Fri Mar 23, 2012.

PHOENIX -- Rejecting arguments that it is improper state intrusion, the state Senate voted Thursday to ban all abortions after 20 weeks except in cases of emergency.

HB 2036 is based on the premise that a fetus is sufficiently developed to be able to experience pain at that point in development. Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, cited testimony of a doctor who said that a 20-week fetus has sensory receptors all over its body.

Barto also said there is evidence that the later along a pregnancy, the greater the chance of complications for the mother.

But Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Phoenix, said that is just a ruse. She said the real aim of proponents is to make it more difficult for women to exercise their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, something she said is none of the business of lawmakers.

"We are not physicians, we are not scientists,'' she said.

"We need to stay out of people's bedrooms, out of the medical examining rooms and out of people's lives,'' she continued. And she chided supporters who have said they want less government intrusion into private lives.

But supporters said this is different.

Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, detailed what happens at different stages of fetal development.

"This debate is about life and it's about a small tiny little life form that has no voice to speak for itself,'' she said. Allen also said that, as a woman, this is not an improper intrusion into the rights of women.

Aside from the criminal penalties, including a possible six-month jail term, the legislation contains new requirements for what a doctor would have to tell a woman prior to an abortion. That includes not only medical information but that the state has a web site that lists services to assist a woman and her unborn child and contact information for adoption agencies willing to place newborns.

Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford, D-Tucson, said if lawmakers are so concerned about informed patients, they should not limit that to women seeking an abortion.

She proposed that any man who wants a prescription for a drug to treat erectile dysfunction must first go to a doctor at least 24 hours ahead of time -- a time frame that mirrors a provision in existing law for a woman who wants an abortion.

A doctor would have to conduct a cardiac test and obtain results "stating that a patient's cardiac health is compatible with sexual activity.'' And patients would have to be told all the potential risks, which range from vision problems to a dangerous condition where an erection does not abate after four hours.

Barto said these aren't the same thing.

"I'm not hearing a lot of talk about whether or not men are complaining that they haven't been informed of the risks of taking ED medication,'' she said. "But we have been informed of many women who have said that they regretted their abortions based on the fact they haven't been informed.''

Barto said there are "devastating'' physical and psychological complications, including problems with future pregnancies as well as an increased risk of anxiety, sleep disorders and suicide. And then there's the ultimate outcome.

"A woman is choosing whether to end the life of the baby inside her,'' Barto said.

But Lopez said the principle is the same.

"If this Legislature decides it's going to wear white coats and stethoscopes and insert itself into women's sexual health, then they should also make sure that they also inserting themselves into men's sexual health,'' she said. "If women are supposed to have this kind of informed consent, then men ought to have the same kind of informed consent with regard to any kind of drug that they're taking with regard to their sexual health.''

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