An Arizona bill banning abortions after 15 weeks is now law — one of four controversial bills signed by Governor Doug Ducey Wednesday afternoon.
Along with Senate Act 1164, Ducey also signed House Bill 2492, a bill that introduces new requirements for proof of citizenship when registering to vote and puts election officials at risk for crime if they don’t follow the rules. Many legal analysts say the bill is likely to be challenged in court.
Ducey also signed two bills related to transgender health care: Senate Act 1138, which bans gender reassignment surgery before age 18, and Senate Act 1165, which blocks trans youth athletes from joining sports teams that align with their gender identity.
Civil rights advocates have called the new bills “extreme” and disturbing.
“The ongoing attacks on reproductive rights and freedom have become commonplace and continue with the signing of SB 1164 by Governor Ducey today,” Brittany Fonteno, chair of the Planned Parenthood division in Arizona, said in the organization’s statement on the legislation.
The new abortion law is similar to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which is now under review by the US Supreme Court. The verdict in that case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationcould overrule Roe v. Wadefundamentally changing the landscape of abortion rights at the national level.
Arizona’s new law would ban all abortions beyond 15 weeks, except in cases of medical emergency where the mother’s life is threatened. It would not allow abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. In addition, any doctor who performed an abortion in violation of the new law could be charged with a class six felony.
“In Arizona, we know that every life is immeasurably valuable — including the unborn,” Ducey wrote in a letter explaining his signature. “I believe it is the responsibility of every state to protect them.”
The bill was sponsored by Republican Senator Nancy Barto, who represents much of North Phoenix and parts of Peoria and Glendale.
Meanwhile, the new electoral law is also likely to face legal challenges. In a letter to Ducey on Wednesday, Darrell Hill, the policy director for the Arizona branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, warned that the bill “is against federal law” and that its approval “will cost the state millions in lawsuits.” .
The law will now impose strict new requirements on proof of citizenship for Arizonans who register to vote.
Currently, approximately 30,000 voters in Arizona are registered as “federal-only” voters. These voters are not required to present documents proving US citizenship to vote, unlike voters who register for state elections. They are still required to swear under punishment and perjury that they are citizens of the state.
This is because courts have ruled that it is unconstitutional to require documentary proof of citizenship before federal elections.
But now any voter in Arizona who has registered with a federal form and failed to provide documentary proof of citizenship will be automatically investigated by the county recorder and possibly the attorney general.
If election workers fail to do so, they could be charged with a crime.
In addition, the new law establishes new, stricter rules for proving Arizona citizenship and residency in state elections. Voter rights advocates say these new requirements will hurt voter registration in the community.
Some legal experts have also warned that this could lead to tens of thousands of voters being kicked off the electoral roll, as some voters who registered decades ago failed to provide proof of citizenship when registering.
†[The bill] is designed to target those marginalized communities that have the least access to voter registration,” Hill, the ACLU attorney told Phoenix New Times†
He also warned of the new charges against election workers. “We are very concerned that this bill criminalizes election workers just for doing their job,” he said.
In his statement on the bill, Ducey claimed the policy was “a balanced approach that honors Arizona’s history of making votes accessible without sacrificing security in our elections.”
The election legislation was supported by Republican state representative Jake Hoffman, who represents Gilbert, Queen Creek and other parts of southeastern Maricopa County. Hoffman celebrated the law on Telegram Wednesday, calling it a “victory over election integrity” and “a big win for Arizona and America.”
His Democratic colleagues disagree. “This is a dark day for Arizona,” Democratic Representative Reginald Bolding said in a statement Wednesday.
“With one stroke of the pen, Governor Ducey has flung Arizona back to its ugliest past.”