Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill Thursday making Arizona the seventh state in the U.S. to legalize a 20-week abortion ban.
House Bill 2036 passed 37-22 Tuesday and bill sponsor Rep. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, said the bill received "overwhelming" support in the legislature.
She said the bill was drafted after testimonies and letters from several doctors indicated that it was necessary to protect maternal health.
"Doctors gave specific examples about putting the life of a mother at the forefront of health and safety," Yee said.
She said the letters and testimonies also indicated that a fetus is fully capable of feeling pain 20 weeks into a pregnancy.
In a letter to the legislature, obstetrics and gynecology doctor Allan Sawyer said abortions after 20 weeks can cause harm to the mother receiving the procedure, possibly even death.
"Medical literature clearly supports that the risk of complications of abortion increase significantly every week that it is delayed," Sawyer said.
He said the bill was in the best interest of Arizona women's health.
"Fewer than 1 percent of abortions are performed after 20 weeks gestation," Sawyer said. "Such a probation would not prove to be a substantial obstacle to the women of Arizona."
Planned Parenthood Arizona spokeswoman Theresa Ulmer said the organization lobbied against HB 2036 and attempted to propose an amendment to clarify the bill's definition of gestational age.
She said the definition as it is could indicate that a woman was pregnant before a baby was actually conceived.
"We were trying to get (the legislature) to add the words 'post-fertilization' into where (the bill) talked about the 20 weeks, so that it was clear that it was actually 20 weeks after the pregnancy," Ulmer said. "They refused to even consider any amendments from me."
She said she feels the legislature is unqualified to determine the consequences of an abortion after 20 weeks.
"This bill does nothing to protect women's health," Ulmer said. "(The bill) is politicizing women's health."
She said she believes the bill will be challenged by a higher judiciary power due to flaws in the bill's language.
Ulmer said this legislature is the most extreme that Arizona has seen so far.
"I'm not sure what the reason for women's health being attacked is," Ulmer said. "At the end of the day, we need a legislature that's going to invest in people."
History and Spanish senior Sarah Lulling said she is a strong advocate for women's rights but felt it was good that the legislature passed the bill and hoped more states would do the same.
"I believe that the moment of conception the baby is a human life," said. "(The bill) is a protection of life and not an issue of women's choice. In this case, it's about the baby's life."
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