A New Restrictive Abortion Bill Was Just Introduced In Arizona, Because State Republicans Weren't Done After Anti-Gay Bill Veto

On Wednesday, Arizona Republicans failed in their bid to let businesses refuse service to gay people, so they've moved on to another goal: Limiting women's access to abortions. On Thursday, the state GOP introduced a new measure that would allow unannounced inspections of abortion clinics without a warrant. Arizona officials also said this week that new regulations on abortion-inducing drugs and more rules for doctors performing abortions will go into effect April 1.

Both of these moves signal a shift towards greater restrictions against abortion in Arizona.

The bill announced Thursday — the Women's Health Protection Act, or HB 2284 — would allow surprise abortion-clinic inspections. It was driven by the Center for Arizona Policy, which dubs itself "Arizona's leading pro-life, pro-family organization." This is the same group that propelled SB 1062, which would've given business owners the right to turn away any customer they don't agree with on religious grounds.

The organization had close ties to Brewer until last year, when the center's president campaigned against Brewer's Medicaid expansion plans, protesting that it would indirectly fund abortions at Planned Parenthood. On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that Arizona cannot withhold funds to Planned Parenthood just because the clinics provide abortions, among other services.

State Rep. Debbie Lesko, who favors HB 2284, says abortion clinics should be subject to “the kind of inspections that happen at Burger King and McDonald’s.”

According to the Center for Arizona Policy's fact sheet on HB 2284, the bill requires timely abortion-clinic inspections; affirms state laws against minors procuring abortions; and lays out instructions on how to save a child's life in the case of a botched abortion.

Last year, the pro-life organization Live Action released an undercover video showing a Phoenix abortion clinic potentially violating Arizona law and regulations governing abortion clinics. In that video, an abortion doctor admitted that if an infant survives an abortion, nothing is done to try to save that child’s life even though Arizona law requires that doctors “use all available means and medical skills…to promote, preserve, and maintain the life” of that child.
Because abortion clinics are now closely regulated, DHS should have the authority to perform reasonable cause, unannounced inspections of abortion clinics, just as they do with every other type of health care institution. HB 2284 ensures that women within abortion clinics have just as much protection as those in other health care institutions by allowing DHS to inspect potential violations in a timely manner.

Democrats and Planned Parenthood have publicly opposed the new bill, saying that it violates women's privacy rights and could garner hefty legal costs. A final vote on the measure will likely take place next week.

And in April, the new abortion restrictions set to go into effect will make abortions in Arizona subject to even more scrutiny. The rules, which were first passed by Brewer back in 2012, require that two doses of the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone be administered at an abortion clinic and that doctors have surgical privileges with a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic.

Additionally, the new laws require women to take the Food and Drug Administration-approved dosage of the drug no later than seven weeks into a pregnancy. The second dose of the drug, which is usually taken at home, must be done under the supervision of the clinic.

The new regulations force "physicians to use an inferior, out-of-date method of care for medication abortion instead of the guidelines supported by the most trusted professional and scientific organizations," said Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood of Arizona, in a statement.

The most controversial aspect of the 2012 law, a ban on all abortions after 20 weeks, was struck down last year.