Republican lawmaker helps defeat Arizona bill banning abortion pills

An Arizona House Republican defected from a united GOP front on Thursday to defeat a measure that would have banned the manufacture or prescription of drugs that would induce abortion.

The unexpectedly failed bill would have eliminated the choice used by half of the people who get abortions in the state, leaving surgery as the only option.

“My members, I’m about as pro-life as they come,” Rep. Michelle Udall of Mesa said as she joined all Democrats in voting against the measure. “However, in my research on some of these drugs, they are also used for other purposes.

“They are used for women who have had a miscarriage. They are also used to treat Cushing’s syndrome and they have other uses,” she said. “And therefore criminalizing the manufacture of these drugs and their use will harm other people.”

Republicans control 31 of the 60 seats in the House and losing one means a bill cannot get the 31 votes needed to pass if Democrats are united in opposition. The state has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, and Republicans in Arizona regularly pass bills targeting the procedure.

The measure could return later in the session, but Udall’s statement showed it will need major revisions if backers want it to pass.

The proposal was one of two major anti-abortion bills in the Legislative Assembly this year. The other passed the Senate last week. It would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy and awaits House action.

Of the 13,186 abortions performed in Arizona in 2020, only 636 were performed after 15 weeks of pregnancy, according to the latest data from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The medical abortion ban is sponsored by Republican Mesa Rep. Jennifer Parker. She told a Judiciary Committee hearing last week that she understood the issue was deeply partisan and that people were firmly entrenched in their position, but that she was prepared to fight the battle.

The pills accounted for 54% of all abortions in the United States, up from about 44% in 2019, according to a report released Thursday by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. A state report shows slightly lower numbers, with the Department of Health Services indicating that 50.2% of abortions were performed with medication.

“To me, there is no right more important than the right to live,” Parker said. “And there is nothing else without life and the chance to live.”

Democrats and abortion rights advocates noted during the hearing that the ban would prevent people who suffer miscarriages from using drugs to cleanse their bodies of the dead fetus, requiring them to undergo surgery. in place.

“How do you tie doctors’ hands and prevent them from providing medical care that is constitutionally protected pro-life?” said Democratic Representative Melody Hernandez during the hearing. “How to prevent people in need of miscarriage treatment in this form is pro-life?”

There was no debate in the House on Thursday as the chamber rushed to finish work on dozens of bills before a midterm deadline.

Several states are considering similar legislation to ban drugs used in abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for reproductive rights. They include Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming and Washington. Washington’s bill is unlikely to make progress in the Democratic-led state.

Many GOP-led states are also considering banning the mailing of abortion pills, which the Food and Drug Administration cleared to be mailed in December. Arizona, Montana, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma passed laws banning the practice last year, though courts have blocked Montana and Oklahoma’s laws from taking effect.

“This is part of the decades-long attack on abortion rights to make it impossible to access care in any way,” Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute said in an email. “Medical abortion is a major method of abortion and is safe and effective, so the effort to ban it is pure politics.”

Among Arizona’s strict abortion laws, the practice is automatically banned if the U.S. High Court completely overturns Roe v. Wade, the nearly five-decade-old decision that enshrined a nationwide right to abortion. Abortion is legal until a fetus can survive outside the womb, which is usually around 24 weeks.

Republicans hope to put the 15-week ban in place so that it takes effect quickly if the Supreme Court further limits abortion rights but stops short of overturning Roe altogether. The Arizona measure closely mirrors a Mississippi law.

Other Arizona Political Histories

Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news

For the latest local news, download the FOX 10 News app

Back To Top