Arizona’s Right-Wing Lawmakers Rally Against ‘Evil’ of Abortion Rights

Demonstrators prayed during the March for Life rally on February 23.
Demonstrators prayed during the March for Life rally on February 23. Katya Schwenk
A group of Arizona's right-wing lawmakers made it clear on Thursday that they plan to fight to restrict abortions in the state.

"One, two, three, four. Roe v. Wade is out the door," cried floods of anti-abortion demonstrators gathered at the Arizona State Capitol.

"Five, six, seven, eight. Now it's time to legislate," the crowd continued.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision — the ruling that protected the right to have an abortion. In Arizona, abortion has remained mostly legal through 15 weeks of pregnancy, though ongoing court challenges could change that.

"There is evil out there, evil that wants to push the agenda. But I can tell you, we are not going to let it happen," Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen, a Republican, told the crowd.

Thursday's march was the first official rally for March for Life in Arizona, a state chapter of the national anti-abortion group March for Life. Jeanne Mancini, the president of the national group, said in a release that the Phoenix event was focused on the "strong pro-life protections" in Arizona that are being "threatened and challenged in the courts."

Mancini was joined by some of the state's most powerful politicians, including State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, a Republican who won reelection in November. "We know that God provides for these precious lives, and we should protect them," Yee told the crowd.

Yee was the sponsor of Arizona's 2011 "heartbeat bill," which requires that doctors ask women who have decided to have an abortion if they would like to see an ultrasound or hear the heartbeat of the fetus.

Other lawmakers at the rally included some of the state's most extreme elected officials, including state Senator Wendy Rogers, an election denier; Senator Justine Wadsack, who is crusading to criminalize drag; state Representative Rachel Jones, a "domestic threat"; holographic foil fans state Representative Quang Nguyen and Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli; and state Representative Leo Biasiucci, an election denier who, along with Borrelli, pals around Vegas with QAnon.
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Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee speaks during the anti-abortion rally at the State Capitol.
Katya Schwenk

Rally Highlights Abortion Bills

The abortion bills that are being pushed by Arizona's right-wing lawmakers were a key focus of the rally. One was the so-called "born alive" bill, SB 1600, which was passed by the Arizona Senate on Thursday and now heads to the state House.

The bill mandates that any infant "born alive," including during the course of abortion, should receive "all medically appropriate and reasonable actions to preserve the life and health of the infant." If doctors fail to provide such treatment, they could be charged with a felony.

The bill's critics argue that it's rare for fetuses to be delivered alive during medical abortions, which are rarely performed after the point when a fetus is viable. Critics have also pointed out that there are already procedures in place that require doctors to perform life-saving measures in these cases.

But State Senator Eva Burch, a Democrat, argued at one hearing that the bill did little more than "aggravate an already traumatizing situation" by pressuring doctors to perform care when there was no chance of a fetus's survival.

At the rally, Mancini urged attendees to put pressure on the Arizona House to pass the bill. "We're strengthening current protections for all babies born alive," she said

Meanwhile, Petersen and Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma, who also spoke at the rally, have led the charge in support of an Arizona law barring doctors from performing abortions if the abortion is due to a fetus's genetic abnormality.

When the bill passed in 2021, it was blocked from taking effect by a federal court. But in January, a federal judge ruled that the ban can once again take effect. Reproductive rights advocates have sued to challenge that decision — and Toma and Petersen are both fighting the lawsuit.

Brittany Fonteno, the president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, wrote in a statement to Phoenix New Times that the organization plans to continue fighting for abortion rights in Arizona. She emphasized that reproductive rights advocates have powerful allies in Governor Katie Hobbs and other newly elected statewide Democrats.

"Let me be clear: abortion is essential, time-sensitive health care, and we will not allow policymakers and other extremists to bully patients and providers from receiving and delivering care," Fonteno wrote. "Every person deserves to have access to the full range of the sexual and reproductive health care they need — including abortion."
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Katya Schwenk is a staff writer for Phoenix New Times. Originally from Burlington, Vermont, she now covers issues ranging from policing to far-right politics here in Phoenix. She has worked as a breaking news correspondent in Rabat, Morocco, for Morocco World News, a government technology reporter for Scoop News Group in Washington, D.C., and a local reporter in Vermont for VTDigger. Her freelance work has been published in Business Insider, the Intercept, and the American Prospect, among other places.
Contact: Katya Schwenk

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