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STATE POLITICS & POLICY | Ariz. House Committee Passes 'Partial-Birth' Abortion Ban Slightly Different Than Bill Gov. Vetoed

STATE POLITICS & POLICY | Ariz. House Committee Passes 'Partial-Birth' Abortion Ban Slightly Different Than Bill Gov. Vetoed
[April 14, 2008]

An Arizona House committee on Wednesday voted 6-3 to approve a measure (SB 1048) that would ban so-called "partial birth" abortion in the state, less than a week after Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) vetoed a similar but not identical bill (HB 2769), Capitol Media Services/Arizona Star reports (Fischer, Capitol Media Services/Arizona Star, 4/10).

In Napolitano's veto letter for HB 2769, the governor cited differences between the bill passed by the state Legislature and a federal law banning partial-birth abortion. She said the state version included a harsher criminal penalty than the federal version and lacked a provision allowing physicians to seek a state government hearing on whether the procedure was necessary to save a woman's life. Napolitano said that "rather than introducing more criminal penalties into the relationship between a woman and her physician, let us focus our collective efforts to remedy the root issue of unwanted pregnancies by addressing such important topics as family planning and the prevention of sexual violence against women" (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 4/8).

The bill passed Wednesday differs from the earlier Arizona measure in two ways -- it sets a maximum two-year penalty as required under the federal law and adds a provision, also in the federal law, that allows physicians to seek an opinion from a medical review panel to determine if the procedure was medically justified. The measure now goes to the full House. "This bill is doing exactly what the governor asked for," Rep. Jerry Weiers (R) said. If the state law is enacted, county attorneys would have the ability to prosecute.

Napolitano press aide Jeanine L'Ecuyer declined to comment on whether the governor would sign the new version. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) said supporters of the legislation were only focusing on part of the veto message. Sinema said the measure "still places some unnecessary restrictions on women who are, sadly, facing a difficult choice at a later time in pregnancy, often in circumstances beyond their own control or their own choosing" and said that the governor does not believe the procedure should be criminalized.

Napolitano also recently vetoed another measure spelling out the factors judges must consider when determining if a minor is mature enough to terminate a pregnancy without parental consent (Capitol Media Services/Arizona Star, 4/10).