Governor signs bills on guns, abortion
Measure on fireworks among 9 that are vetoed
by Matthew Benson, Casey Newton and Amy B Wang - Jul. 14, 2009 12:00 AM
Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday signed into law tight new restrictions on access to
abortion in Arizona, imposing a 24-hour waiting period on women seeking the
procedure and requiring that minors first receive written, notarized consent
from a parent or guardian.
The Republican governor also expanded the rights of gun owners by allowing those
with a concealed-carry permit to take their firearms into establishments that
serve alcohol, but she cited wildfire concerns in rejecting a proposal that
would have legalized the sale of small fireworks in the state.
The bills were some of the most controversial of a legislative session in which
policy discussions took a backseat to state budget concerns. On Monday, Brewer's
final day to act upon legislation before it became law automatically, she signed
79 bills and vetoed nine.
New state laws take effect Sept. 30.
For abortion opponents, Monday's bill signings were long-sought victories.
One by one, similar measures had appeared on then-Gov. Janet Napolitano's desk
for six years. And, one by one, she vetoed them.
So, perhaps no group was more excited than social conservatives by Napolitano's
resignation in January and the ascension to the Governor's Office of longtime
abortion-foe Brewer. Their enthusiasm was palpable Monday.
Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, said the
imposition of an abortion waiting period is a "signature pro-life piece of
"Governor Brewer today has shown Arizonans that she cares about the values that
matter most to them: protecting life and protecting families," added Cathi
Herrod, president of the conservative Center for Arizona Policy. "These bills
protect women, children, parents and the civil rights of health-care workers."
With Brewer's signature, Arizona becomes the 22nd state to impose a mandatory,
24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion, according to the National
Conference of State Legislatures. It is the 34th to require informed consent in
which physicians performing an abortion must inform their patient about risks
With a second anti-abortion bill signed into law, Arizona will impose a fine or
two-year prison sentence upon any individual who performs an illegal, late-term
abortion procedure known medically as intact dilation and extraction. The
procedure is illegal under federal law and is punishable by one year in prison.
Brewer's signature also will give doctors, pharmacists and other medical
professionals the right to cite moral or other objections in refusing to
participate in an abortion or to prescribe emergency contraception. The
provision could be negated, though, in the wake of a federal appeals-court
ruling last week. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that pharmacists
in Washington state had to dispense Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill,
even if they oppose use of the pill for religious reasons.
Taken in whole, critics worry that the new laws will reduce access by women to
emergency contraception and abortion, especially in rural areas where
health-care options are fewer.
"In addition to denying women access to emergency contraception, which is a form
of birth control, it drastically reduces access to care in rural and underserved
areas," Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said in a
statement. Planned Parenthood performs 80 to 85 percent of all abortions in
There were 10,486 abortions performed in Arizona in 2007, with 90 percent taking
place in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Arizona Department of
Once the law takes effect, Planned Parenthood estimated that only women in the
Phoenix and Tucson metro areas will maintain reasonable access to abortion.
Planned Parenthood issued a news release stating that the new law endangers
"more than half of Arizona's residents by placing an undue burden on women."
Gun rights expand
Bills dealing with gun rights also dominated headlines this legislative session.
Monday was no different.
Brewer signed into law a proposal that will allow the state's 125,000 carriers
of concealed-weapons permits to bring their firearms into bars and restaurants.
The measure allows bar owners to remain gun-free by posting signs prohibiting
weapons. Permit-holders would be prohibited from drinking in a bar while
carrying their firearms.
For gun-rights advocates, the law means greater freedom for gun owners.
For opponents, it blends a dangerous cocktail of alcohol and guns.
"Any time law-abiding gun owners can carry firearms into more places, the safer
the public is," said Todd Rathner, a lobbyist for the National Rifle
Rathner noted that carriers of an Arizona concealed-weapons permit must undergo
a criminal-background check, be fingerprinted and take an eight-hour training
course. He called such permit holders "the most law-abiding citizens we have,"
and he noted that 39 states have a similar law in place relating to concealed
weapons in bars and restaurants.
State Sen. Ken Cheuvront countered that the new Arizona law has more potential
for danger because the state's permit system is among the more lenient
"All I know is that guns and liquor do not mix," said Cheuvront, a Democrat and
the owner of a wine bar in central Phoenix. "They're putting other patrons and
my staff at risk by having a gun in my establishment."
Brewer's approval of a second proposal will prohibit property and business
owners from banning guns from parking areas, so long as the weapons are kept
locked in privately owned vehicles.
The law exempts parking lots that are fenced or guarded, as well as those that
provide secure gun storage.
Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said both gun laws "struck a good balance"
between the rights of gun owners and private-property owners. He called the
governor's action "consistent with her long track record of defense of Second
Lastly, Brewer OK'd a proposal that allows any individual who feels threatened
to indicate that they're carrying a weapon without violating intimidation
statutes. The law only applies for instances of self-defense.