The top two leaders in the Arizona Legislature are using their power to give abortion foes more time to pressure Gov. Janet Napolitano into signing legislation imposing a waiting period.
They want to buy time so that an advertising blitz will spur residents to call the governor’s office asking her to sign the measure.
House Speaker Jake Flake, R-Snowflake, said Monday he has held up sending SB1077 back to the Senate even after the House approved the bill on Thursday. Senate President Ken Bennett, R-Prescott, whose job it is to send the bill to the governor, said he will take a few more days, perhaps until Thursday, before doing so.
Both admitted they were asked for the delay by supporters who are hoping that a $50,000 media campaign generates sufficient telephone calls, e-mails and letters to the governor to persuade her to sign the legislation or at least let it become law without her signature.
The 30-second commercials, appearing through at least Wednesday during newscasts on network affiliates and in local inserts on CNN and Fox cable networks, feature several women who said they were not given the information they need. The five slightly different commercials, paid for by the Center for Arizona Policy, all list the governor’s phone number.
During the 2002 gubernatorial campaign, Napolitano was the lone candidate who did not support legislation imposing a waiting period for an abortion. The governor, while refusing to say what she will do with this bill, said that her views on the subject have not changed.
Cathi Herrod, a lobbyist for the Center for Arizona Policy, along with Ron Johnson, who lobbies for the Arizona Catholic Conference, said they asked legislative leaders for the delay.
"The question is whether the governor will follow the majority of the public that support informed consent legislation in poll after poll or whether the governor is tied to the abortion industry," Herrod said. "We think there needs to be a few days for the governor to hear from the people."
The ad campaign appears to be having some effect. Gubernatorial press aide Jeanine L’Ecuyer said that as of Monday afternoon there were slightly fewer than 500 calls, running about 3-1 in favor of Napolitano signing the bill. She said e-mails are running about the same percentage, though about 200 faxes have heavily supported a veto, L’Ecuyer said.
Flake acknowledged that his action and Bennett’s mean more days for calls to come in to the governor.
"It’s a pretty important bill, wouldn’t you say?" said Flake, who supports the legislation. "I want it to have the best advantage possible with the governor."
Bennett said he wasn’t doing anything for supporters of the legislation that he didn’t do for the governor.
He said that gubernatorial staff, presuming last week that the bill would be ready to send to Napolitano last Thursday, asked him through Senate Democratic leadership to delay sending it to her until at least today. Bennett said if he consented to a five-day delay for the governor he saw no reason not to give a few days to the other side.
The governor’s office disagreed with his explanation.
"We don’t know what he’s talking about," L’Ecuyer responded. "I can’t think of a reason why we would do that."
Rep. Linda Lopez, DTucson, who opposes the legislation, said she doubts that the move will change minds. "It’s a really deeply held philosophical, moral belief for people," she said. "And I don’t think media campaigns change those kinds of beliefs."
SB1077 spells out that, except in emergency, at least 24 hours before a pregnancy can be terminated, a doctor must tell the woman the nature of the procedure and the risks and alternatives. Information also would be required on the probable age of the fetus. That information can be given by phone.