Gov. Jan Brewer and the Arizona Legislature performed a biological miracle Thursday when they decided that pregnancy begins at menstruation—not the moment of conception—in a pack of adjustments to abortion regulations that will ban most of the procedures 20 weeks after the start of a woman’s last period.
Abortions after that time will be legal only when they are deemed necessary to prevent the mother’s death or “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” Ultrasounds will also be required 24 hours before the procedures. —ARK
Planned Parenthood of Arizona lobbyist Michelle Steinberg called the law the country’s “most extreme piece of anti-abortion legislation.”
She said the law defines pregnancy in a way that bans abortion two weeks before the other seven states with similar laws, because it calculates gestational age starting with the first day of the last menstrual period rather than the date of conception.
During the hearings on the bill, doctors said many women don’t discover their fetus has a severe or life-threatening problem until an ultrasound at about the 20th week. The doctors — and several women who had faced this issue — testified that this law would arbitrarily cut off the right for these women to have an abortion.