Two state senators are now backing legislation to force women to wait 24 hours before terminating a pregnancy, giving the legislation for the first time the necessary votes to send a bill to the governor’s desk.
On a 7-2 margin, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an informed consent law. It spells out what information must be given to a woman at least 24 hours before an abortion, with doctors subject to losing their license for failing to comply unless there is an emergency.
This isn’t the first year the panel has approved such a measure.
But with the change of stance by Sens. Richard Miranda, D-Phoenix, and Peter Rios, D-Dudleyville, it is the first year ever there appear to be enough votes to get the bill out of the Senate.
The House approved an identical measure last year with more than enough votes to send the measure to Gov. Janet Napolitano. That will force the governor to decide whether she will live up to a campaign promise to veto any legislation to impose a waiting period on abortions.
Gubernatorial press aide Jeanine L’Ecuyer said Wednesday that Napolitano will not comment on the measure.
Wednesday’s vote came one day before the 31st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized abortions. Activists on both sides of the issue have scheduled rallies today to mark the anniversary.
Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona, called the legislative measure both unnecessary and impractical. He said a law already requires that patients undergoing any sort of medical procedure must be told all the risks and benefits and must give consent without coercion.
But obstetrician/ gynecologist William Chavira said the measure makes sense: "This bill empowers women and it gives them the true information that they need to make for themselves.’’
Sen. Linda Binder, R-Lake Havasu City, one of the foes of the bill, said the legislation singles out abortion. Yet Binder said there is no requirement that women — or anyone — wait 24 hours before enlisting in the military "even when we know this choice can lead to the loss of life and other devastating consequences.’’
The identical legislation died in the Senate last year after only 14 senators agreed to support it, two short of the necessary 16 votes.
This year, though, Miranda said he will back the bill. Miranda said he had done some "rethinking’’ of his opposition. The final vote will come from Rios.
Rios said he voted against the bill last year solely because it was being pushed to embarrass the new governor by making that the first bill to reach her desk. He said if she vetoed it as her first official act that would define her entire administration. "She’s not new anymore,’’ Rios said Wednesday.