Ducey Signs Controversial Bill That Threatens Abortion Doctors With Jail Time

Governor Doug Ducey at a recent press conference.
DHS Screenshot
Governor Doug Ducey at a recent press conference.
Governor Doug Ducey signed a sweeping and controversial piece of anti-abortion legislation today that criminalizes certain abortions and threatens abortion doctors with jail time.

The new law, Senate Bill 1457, would make performing an abortion based on a "genetic abnormality" a Class 6 felony with a minimum six-month prison sentence.

Lethal fetal conditions are excluded from the legislation's definition of genetic abnormality. The law makes "soliciting or accepting monies" to finance an abortion because of a genetic abnormality a Class 3 felony, gives fetuses the same rights as children and adults, and bans facilities located within public educational institutions from offering abortion services. Additionally, the law requires that the remains of aborted fetuses be cremated and bans the delivery of abortion pills by mail.

“There’s immeasurable value in every single life — regardless of genetic makeup,” Ducey said in a statement released this afternoon. “We will continue to prioritize protecting life in our preborn children, and this legislation goes a long way in protecting real human lives. My sincere thanks to Senator Nancy Barto for her leadership and work on this life-saving issue.”

The news release went on to state that Ducey's signature of the bill keeps Arizona "among the top pro-life states in the nation."

The legislation has been widely criticized by pro-choice advocates and members of the medical community, who argue that it is unconstitutional, excessive, and dangerous.

Democratic Arizona lawmakers have argued that the Republican lawmakers who backed the bill are using it as a method to attract lawsuits and get a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that protects a woman's right to get an abortion. The bill is one of many Republican efforts this year to criminalize abortion; one of the unsuccessful bills would have mandated that prosecutors file homicide charges against abortion doctors and their patients.

Pro-choice advocates were quick to denounce Ducey's decision to sign the bill.

“This bill, like Governor Ducey, couldn’t be more out of touch with the majority of Arizonans who support reproductive freedom. Instead of delivering much-needed COVID-19 relief, Republicans in Arizona chose to devote this year’s legislative session to waging attacks on Arizonans’ most fundamental freedoms, pushing extreme bills gutting access to abortion and suppressing the right to vote," NARAL Pro-Choice America Southwest Regional Director Caroline Mello Roberson said in a statement released today. "SB 1457 will have devastating consequences for Arizona doctors, pregnant people, and families—full stop. In passing this outrageous bill, Gov. Ducey and the Republican-controlled state Legislature have made clear how little they truly care about serving the interests of Arizonans.”

"Arizona is a diverse, politically purple state experiencing steady economic and population growth. Signing this extreme forced-birth bill into law was a mistake that will bring enormous personal harm to Arizona women, to medical personnel and to our state's reputation and economy," said Democratic state Representative Reginald Bolding in a statement. "By criminalizing reproductive healthcare, Governor Ducey and every Republican member of the legislature have sent the message to the rest of the country and to the world that women are not respected or valued, and that they and their doctors are no longer welcome in our state."

Cathi Herrod, the president of the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative pro-life group that had lobbied for the legislation, stated on Twitter that it was an "incredible day in Arizona" after Ducey signed the bill.

Back in early April, it looked as if the legislation was dead after one Republican Senator, Tyler Pace, voted against it in the Senate. However, the bill was revived through Senate procedural processes after Republican lawmakers agreed to an amended version of the legislation, which excluded abortions based on lethal fetal conditions from criminalization.