An anti-abortion bill has been introduced in the state of Arizona that would require medical providers to search for “evidence of life” while performing an abortion. If passed, doctors will be forced to look for signs of life during the procedure, such as “evidence of breathing, a heartbeat, umbilical cord pulsations, and definite movement of voluntary muscles.”
The supposed purpose of this requirement would be to ensure the abortion does not result in a live birth. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the chances of pregnancy termination resulting in a termination of a live birth are extremely unlikely. However, if this bill were to be implemented, doctors and staff risk penalty of perjury if they fail to conduct the “examination.”
The bill was introduced on January 31st and already has the backing of twenty state representatives and sixteen state senators as well as the Center for the Arizona Policy.
Abortion providers and advocates are concerned that this bill will further the undue burdens placed on providers, preventing safe and legal access to abortion services. In an interview conducted by Rewire News, California OB-GYN Dr. David Klein expressed his concern, arguing that “Increasing the capability of clinics to include intensive care…would likely require an incredible burden on clinics and would likely force their closure—an issue addressed in the recent Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case.”
This is not the first bill expected to create unnecessary restrictions and barriers on abortion services and providers in Arizona. Arizona is among the 25 states with laws and/or policies perpetuating the targeted regulation of abortion providers. These restrictions include but are not limited to a required state-directed counseling discouraging abortion, a 24-hour waiting period before undergoing an abortion, parental consent of a minor’s procedure, a required ultrasound and the requirement that abortion facilities are equipped like surgical centers.
Whether or not these burdens will continue to expand is to be determined. The “Evidence of Life” bill is being reviewed by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and Senate Rules Committee and was read a second time by the Senate on February 1st.
Media Resources: Fifty-third Legislature of the State of Arizona Senate 2017, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2003-2014, Center for the Arizona Policy 1/26/17, Rewire News 2/6/17, Guttmacher Institute 2/17, Guttmacher Institute 1/17