The bill, which passed in the state House of Representatives
34-22, would delete a provision in state law mandating that an
administrative warrant be obtained from a judge to inspect any of
the nine licensed abortion clinics in Arizona. A warrant is not
required to inspect other clinics and medical facilities.
"This is not a pro-life versus pro-choice issue. This is about the
healthiness of a facility where a woman goes to get a procedure
done," said Republican Representative Debbie Lesko, the bill's
sponsor. "What is it that they have to hide?"
The measure, which still must be approved by the state Senate and
signed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer before it can become law,
is the latest abortion-related restriction to be sought by conservatives in state legislatures across the United
Arizona state Representative Lisa Otondo, a Democrat, described it
as "a slap in the face to women and to taxpayers who end up paying
for unconstitutional bills."
Opponents said it was almost certain the bill from the conservative
Center for Arizona Policy would be challenged in court if it becomes
Lawmakers in the southwestern U.S. state have taken steps to limit
abortions, and a federal appeals court last year struck down as
unconstitutional an Arizona 2012 law banning abortions from 20 weeks
gestation, except in medical emergencies. Late-term abortions remain
Abortion rights groups described that Arizona measure at the time as
more extreme than similar laws in other states because the way
Arizona measures gestation means it would bar abortions two weeks
earlier than in other states.
[to top of second column]
If the surprise inspection measure is ultimately signed into law,
Arizona would join 10 other states that allow for such surprise
inspections, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit
sexual health organization. Only one Republican voted against the
Arizona lawmakers previously approved surprise inspections in 1999,
but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the provision as
unconstitutional. New regulations governing abortion clinics took
effect in 2010.
Backers of the bill have said the court's concerns now have been
remedied by the new rules. Opponents dispute that. Planned
Parenthood Arizona president Bryan Howard said the bill would "open
the door to provider and patient harassment."
The measure comes shortly after the Arizona lawmakers found
themselves in the national spotlight over passage of another
controversial bill on whether business owners could use their
religious beliefs as grounds for refusing to serve some customers.
Last Wednesday, Brewer rejected that bill, which critics derided as
a license to discriminate against gays and others. The bill had
attracted widespread opposition from businesses and political
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston)
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