Arizona Senate votes to ban abortions at 20 weeks of gestation

Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX — On a 20-10 margin, the state Senate voted Tuesday to ban virtually all abortions at 20 weeks of gestation, a measure that Planned Parenthood Arizona says makes it the most restrictive in the nation. The vote came over objections of foes to HB 2036 who have argued that the question of terminating a pregnancy should be left to a woman and her doctor, without legislative intervention.

But Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, said it’s not that simple. “There’s a third person in that room,’ he said. “There’s the baby,’ Yarbrough continued. “Who speaks for her, the totally innocent one with no voice? Who has the duty and the right to speak for her? We do.’ Senate Minority Leader David Schapira said he understands that, in a representative democracy, legislators are legally empowered to make such decisions.

But the Tempe Democrat said the problem with such hard and fast rules is that lawmakers cannot possibly understand each person’s situation. He claimed a majority of doctors oppose this bill for that reason. “I think we should weigh that and we should consider that when we cast our votes,’ he said. “Just like if a vast majority of educators say something in education is a bad idea or recommend that we do something in education, I think we should hear them out.’

Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, however, put the issue in a larger scale. “I would like to listen to the 50 million-plus children that have been aborted and killed since Roe v. Wade,’ he said, referring to the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which concluded that women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. “I would like to listen to what they think of this bill.’

Tuesday’s vote sends the measure to the House which has not considered the issue.

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