The Republican-backed bill, which gained final legislative
approval from the state Senate last week, removes a provision from
state law requiring a judge to approve any spot inspections
conducted at the nine clinics in Arizona licensed to perform
No other medical facilities in the state require such a warrant for
"This legislation will ensure that the Arizona Department of Health
Services has the authority to appropriately protect the health and
safety of all patients," gubernatorial spokesman Andrew Wilder said
in announcing that Brewer, a Republican, had signed the measure.
The governor herself made no comment.
Supporters of the bill argued that abortion clinics should be
subject to the same level of oversight as other medical facilities
and that requiring court-approved warrants for unannounced
inspections could delay such scrutiny.
Critics of the measure called it an unnecessary government intrusion
that had little to do with public safety.
Instead, they cast the measure as open to abuse by officials with an
anti-abortion agenda who might use increased latitude for
inspections to interfere with clinic operations, effectively
restraining legal access to abortion in the state.
Officials with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, a political
arm of the women's health provider, said they expect the law will be
challenged in court but that it was too early to say if Planned
Parenthood itself would sue.
"We're not surprised that Governor Brewer signed this bill," Bryan
Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, said
in a statement. "She has been hostile to women's health care,
including abortion and family planning, since the day she took
[to top of second column]
Arizona now joins 10 other states that allow for warrantless
surprise inspections of abortion clinics, according to the
Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit sexual health organization.
The law adds to a string of abortion controls on the books in
Arizona that rank among the most restrictive in the nation.
In 2012, Arizona enacted a law banning most abortions after 20 weeks
of pregnancy, though a federal appeals court struck down that
statute last year.
Arizona lawmakers previously approved warrantless surprise
inspections for abortion clinics in 1999, but a federal appeals
court struck down that measure as unconstitutional.
Abortion foes argue that warrantless inspections can now pass court
muster under a new set of abortion clinic regulations adopted by
Arizona in 2010. Abortion rights advocates disagree.
(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis;
writing by Steve Gorman
in Los Angeles; editing by Dan Whitcomb, Eric Walsh, Mohammad Zargham and Lisa Shumaker)
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