PHOENIX - An anti-abortion bill just cleared its first hurdle in the Arizona Legislature.
SB 1164 would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and would charge doctors with a felony for performing that procedure.
The ban aligns with a bill in Mississippi currently before the Supreme Court, where a pending ruling could overturn or undo the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision from almost 50 years ago.
Cathi Herrod, President of the Center for Arizona Policy, says the bill is meant to prepare Arizona for the pending ruling.
"1164 seeks to protect both the life and the unborn child and the mother," said Herrod. "Life is a human right. Abortion is not healthcare."
The bill allows for an exception for a medical emergency.
Measure passed GOP-led Senate Panel
The measure was passed on Feb. 3 by the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee. Ahead of the meeting, Planned Parenthood Advocates or Arizona and other reproductive rights supporters spoke out against the bill.
"We know that abortion is not just about legality," said Victoria Lopez with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. "It is about our dignity, our humanity and our freedom. It is about saving lives."
People who spoke out against the bill included Kristin Williams, a married Arizona mother of three. A surprise fourth pregnancy led to her family learning about a genetic disorder - Trisomy 13 - for the unborn baby that had a high risk of death after the first week. A history of pregnancy complications made Williams and her family make the difficult decision to get an abortion at 16 weeks.
"Risking my health for a non-viable pregnancy wasn't the best choice for my family," said Williams. "I say all of this not to justify our decision to end the pregnancy, but to share with you the many factors families consider when receiving a diagnosis like ours."
Meanwhile, Sen. Nancy Barto said during the meeting that the proposed law itself was a way to save lives.
"We need to look at this issue how lives can be saved and this is the next step, a very common sense way of saving lives in Arizona," Barto said.
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