Governor Jan Brewer has signed a bill that allows the state health department to search abortion clinics without an administrative warrant.
Brewer didn't make any public comments on her signing of the legislation, House Bill 2284.
The bill is one of three bills backed by the Religious Right organization Center for Arizona Policy that have been passed by lawmakers. Brewer vetoed the first bill, SB 1062, which was widely seen as anti-gay. Another, which expands tax exemptions for churches, is awaiting her signature.
Although it's not surprising that Brewer would sign a bill calling for tighter restrictions on abortion, she did say in her veto of SB 1062 that social issues weren't among her legislative priorities. She said that before lawmakers passed a budget for the year, so perhaps that's changed.
Now, this new abortion bill almost certainly will be subject to a lawsuit from pro-choice groups. The Center for Arizona Policy pushed a similar bill that was signed into law more than a decade ago but was overturned in court (one of four anti-abortion bills pushed by CAP that were have been overturned in court).
In both the Senate and the House, Republican sponsors of the bill parroted the talking points laid out by the Center for Arizona Policy -- that the bill simply holds abortion clinics to the same standards as other medical clinics, which can be searched by the state health department without an administrative warrant.
Democrats argued that abortion clinics are subject to politics, and aren't like other medical facilities. They fear that the bill could open the door to potential abuse by some hypothetical anti-abortion crusader at the state health department, who could disrupt clinics with constant searches.
Planned Parenthood of Arizona president Bryan Howard released a statement saying the following, in part:
"We support health care regulations that protect patient safety. Abortion is extremely safe. Data, including from the CDC, shows that abortion has over a 99% safety record. At Planned Parenthood, our guidelines are based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
"We're not surprised that Governor Brewer signed this bill. She has been hostile to women's health care, including abortion and family planning, since the day she took office. In partnership with the controversial Center for Arizona Policy, the group behind SB 1062 that was vetoed earlier this year, politicians wrote this legislation with the end goal of making safe, legal abortion difficult or even impossible for women to get. The Arizona Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists joined Planned Parenthood in asking Governor Brewer to veto this this bill."
Meanwhile, other CAP-backed abortion laws have been subject to court battles.
The U.S. Supreme Court this year has declined to hear the appeal of two CAP-supported provisions that had been overturned in lower courts, including one that banned most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and another that attempted to prevent Medicaid money from being spent at Planned Parenthood, for family-planning services that don't include abortion.
In yet another lawsuit over a Center for Arizona Policy-backed law, pro-choice groups are suing over regulations on medicated abortion, which cut down on the window in which a woman can get an abortion using medications.
Cathi Herrod, the president of the Center for Arizona Policy, responded to the governor's signing of HB 2284 by releasing a statement saying, "Today we celebrate this victory, but our work will never be done until every woman and preborn child is protected from the dangerous and deadly practices of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry."
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