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Church State Issues

Ducey signs abortion medication legislation

Mar 31, 2015

Arizona Republic

Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, The Republic | azcentral.com 9:53 p.m. MST March 30, 2015

Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday signed into law a bill that requires physicians to tell women receiving medication-induced abortions that the procedure can potentially be reversed.

Senate Bill 1318 also bars insurance companies from providing abortion services to women who purchase medical coverage through the federal health-care exchange, except in cases of rape and incest.

In a statement, Ducey said the legislation "protects Arizona taxpayers" by ensuring public funds are "not used to subsidize abortions."

"The American people overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer funding of abortions, and it's no different in Arizona, where we have long-standing policy against subsidizing them with public dollars," Ducey's statement said.

The bill signing came as lawmakers returned from a weekend break to packed agendas.

The Senate promptly killed two of the most controversial bills of the session, rejecting measures that would allow guns in public buildings and that would end Arizona's compliance with the Common Core education standards. But the rush to end the session by week's end seemed to slow, with many lawmakers and Capitol observers projecting final adjournment next week.

The abortion legislation was a win for the conservative Center for Arizona Policy, which had made the bill one of its key issues for the 2015 session.

The powerful group, led by Ducey campaign supporter and lobbyist Cathi Herrod, has worked over the years to restrict abortions.

The group tweeted a photo of Ducey signing the bill at his desk in the Executive Tower.

Herrod told The Arizona Republic that the group was provided with the photo by someone in the room.

Herrod called it "a good day for Arizona women when the law ensures women" are told such medication-induced abortions may be reversible.

Bill opponents have said medical science does not support the claim that drug-induced abortions can be reversed. The notification language, proposed by Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Gilbert, drew ridicule from critics nationwide.

The underlying bill will make it more expensive for a woman to find insurance coverage that pays for elective abortion services, said Cynde Cerf of Planned Parenthood of Arizona.

"If you're a woman who relies on the (health-care) marketplace, it's less expensive," Cerf said.

Now, women will turn to private insurance or perhaps their employers' plans, she added.

The bill also requires doctors who provide abortions to submit proof to the state Department of Health Services of the hospitals where they have admitting privileges.

The measure was amended last week to keep those records shielded from public view, out of concern for the doctors' safety.

Herrod said Ducey's signature on the bill underscores his statement that "he was proudly pro-life."

"Governor Ducey is a man of his word. He never shied or backed away from being pro-life, so it's no surprise he would sign pro-life legislation," Herrod said.

Follow the reporter on Twitter @yvonnewingett.

Republic reporter Mary Jo Pitzl contributed to this article.