New abortion, weapons laws take effect in Ariz.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009
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New Arizona gun and abortion laws that took effect Wednesday are stirring controversy among Arizona residents, businesses, organizations and politicians.

The new laws allow guns to be kept in cars on campus, as well as on public and private properties. New abortion laws, which have been challenged in court, impose a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions.

Another new gun law allows licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons into bars and restaurants unless there is a sign on the property prohibiting firearms, according to state legislative documents.

The law that allows firearms to be transported to and stored on most public and private properties requires that they are concealed and locked in a registered gun owner’s vehicle.

Political science sophomore Christopher Chesny, secretary of the ASU College Republicans, said the new gun laws are well thought out and protect Second Amendment rights.

“You’ve got the person’s right to bear arms taken into consideration [with these laws], but you’ve also got the property owner’s interests in mind,” Chesny said. “As far as the second law goes, it’s a person’s car and they should be able to carry a gun in it.”

People with guns in their cars should keep them out of sight because a firearm in plain view could prompt someone to break in and steal it, Chesny said.

ASU President Michael Crow said in an Arizona Board of Regents meeting Friday that allowing concealed weapons in locked vehicles on campus goes against the environment he wants for the University.

“Our job as university presidents is to create an environment for openness, tolerance, communication, understanding — all these things,” Crow said. “The public projection of weapons is a counter to the creation of that environment.”

However, Crow said ASU will comply with the state law.

“While the law is the law, it will remain the case that weapons visible in the ASU campus will be viewed as actions with the intention of potential violence,” he said.

David Berman, a senior research fellow for ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said in an e-mail that the new laws are a result of Republican Jan Brewer succeeding Janet Napolitano as governor.

“Change was inevitable once Napolitano decided to go to Washington,” Berman said. “The passage [of these laws] reflects the fact that although they differ on the sales tax issue, Gov. Brewer and legislators from her own party share a common conservative agenda.”

Since Brewer stepped into office as governor, abortion laws have also seen reform.

Portions of the abortion bills passed by the Legislature and Brewer were challenged and blocked in court Tuesday, but some provisions that slow down the process of getting an abortion were allowed to take effect Wednesday.

A state judge ruled Tuesday that women could receive information about the risks of and substitutes for abortion on the phone from a physician instead of meeting in person as the original bill would have required.

Women must now have a consultation with a physician at least 24 hours before an abortion.

Due to persistent opposition to the bills, the judge also stopped other provisions of the bills from becoming law. These included requiring minors to present notarized consent for an abortion from a parent or guardian, allowing health care professionals to refuse to assist in an abortion, and prohibiting nurse practitioners from performing surgical abortions.

Planned Parenthood was a major opponent to the new abortion bills.

Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said the organization had been actively involved in trying to stop this legislation since it was introduced in February.

Once Planned Parenthood got wind of measures being pushed to restrict abortion, the organization jumped to action, Howard said.

“We began working with our legal counsel as well as with our health care staff to better understand the practical impact [of the bills] on our patients  and any women seeking this health care,” he said.

Planned Parenthood also examined potential Constitutional issues with the bills, Howard said.

“We developed fact sheets which we distributed to all legislators, testified in House and Senate committees over the course of the 2009 sessions and provided information to online activists,” he said.

About 7,000 Arizonans sent messages to legislators against these abortion measures, Howard said.

“It was a pretty significant outpouring of sentiments,” he said.

Though politicians received more than 17,000 messages, the Legislature passed abortion bills and sent them to Brewer, Howard said.

Similar bills regarding abortion had been proposed over the years by conservative legislators during Napolitano’s governorship, but Napolitano vetoed these bills, he said.

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