House Republicans add new questions to abortion bill

April 10, 2018

PHOENIX (AP) — Republicans who control the Arizona House approved legislation Monday that will require abortion clinics to ask women if they are victims of sex assault, incest or sex trafficking and to provide the patient with ways to contact law enforcement.

The 35-22 party-line vote came after nearly two hours of debate between Democrats who opposed the added rules for abortion providers and Republicans who regularly push through new abortion regulations.

The new language requiring the abuse questions were added Monday after a committee had earlier stripped out provisions from the proposal requiring doctors to ask women specifically why they were seeking an abortion.

Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth said the new requirements are designed to help women who may be victims of abuse. He added them Monday to a bill that mainly boosts the state’s already robust reporting requirements for abortion providers. Under the proposal, they must report details of any complications and follow tougher “informed consent” reporting requirements.

“What this bill is about is getting information,” Farnsworth said. “And I believe there are those of you who believe that abortion is the safest. And maybe it is. Maybe it is because we require reporting.”

Minority Democrats called the new requirements intrusive, unneeded and designed to shame women.

“This bill would intimidate patients, intimidate women who are seeking abortion services, and it also makes providing an abortion more onerous to providers,” Democratic Rep. Athena Salman said during floor debate. “I welcome any member to show me where in statue it requires this step of reporting, this level of regulations and restriction on any other medical procedures.”

Under the proposal that now returns to the Senate for a final vote, patients seeking an abortion would be asked privately if they are being coerced into seeking an abortion or are victims of sex trafficking, incest, sexual assault or domestic violence. Women could choose not to answer.

Republicans who control both chambers of the Legislature pass anti-abortion bills each session. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has routinely signed them when they reach his desk, even those on shaky constitutional grounds. In 2016, he was unapologetic after signing a bill he would soon have to repeal because it faced long odds in the courts.

“In such a case, I will always stand with those advocating life,” Ducey wrote then in a signing statement.

— The legislation is Senate Bill 1394 .

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