Cathi Herrod

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Texas law to take effect appears to provide a “road map’’ for abortion restrictions in Arizona.

The head of the state’s premier anti-abortion organizations said she is looking to use the newly enacted Texas ban on the terminating a pregnancy after fetal heartbeat has been detected as a template for legislation here.

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Texas law to take effect appears to provide a “road map’’ for enacting abortion restrictions in this state that, until now, have been struck down by federal courts.

But the key to the Supreme Court action is the difference between SB 8 and all other abortion restrictions.

Laws from other states make it a crime to terminate a pregnancy in certain situations or after a certain date, with the state in charge of enforcing the law and prosecuting offenders.

For example, a 2012 Arizona law to make it a crime to perform an abortion after 20 weeks was struck down by a federal court, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court. Similar laws from other states have met similar fates.

In Texas, however, the law empowers individual citizens – and not necessarily from Texas – to file civil suits against not only abortion providers but anyone who “aids or abets’’ aborting a fetus after a heartbeat has been detected. A judge late last week barred citizens from going to Planned Parenthood clinics to test the law there.

A heartbeat usually occurs about six weeks into pregnancy, which may be before a woman knows she is carrying a child. It also could effectively become a nearly total ban on the procedure based on estimates that at least 85 percent of abortions are performed after that point.

Herrod is taking a closer look at what she calls a “novel approach’’ to restricting abortion.

“The Texas heartbeat law is a road map to what other states can do,’’ she told Capitol Media Services. “The Texas heartbeat law is worthy of serious consideration by the Arizona Legislature.’’

SB 8 spells out that its ban on post-heartbeat abortions is enforced only by individuals who can sue doctors, friends, associates or others that help a woman terminate a pregnancy. It even provides for them to recover their legal fees and offers a $10,000 minimum reward for every successful lawsuit.

Herrod isn’t the only one paying attention to the ruling and what it could mean in Arizona.

So is Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix.

She is the sponsor of a new Arizona law which makes it a crime, enforceable by the state, to abort a fetus due to “genetic abnormalities.’’ That law is set to take effect at the end of this month, though there is a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

Barto said she wants to see how this particular approach to banning abortions at six weeks is considered by the courts on its merits. But the senator indicated she is hopeful.

“So far, it’s saving lives,’’ Barto said of the Texas statute. “And that should encourage everyone who cares about protecting life in the womb.’’

The ruling, however, concerns Planned Parenthood of Arizona. Spokeswoman Murphy Bannerman pointed out that the law Barto already ushered through actually has some of the same elements of civil enforcement as the Texas statute.

For example, she noted, the law does more than make it a crime to perform an abortion knowing that the reason was the genetic abnormality. It also allows the husband of the woman who has such a procedure to file a civil suit on behalf of the unborn child.

And if the woman is younger than 18, her parents can sue.

What all that means, Bannerman said, is that those who want to preclude this kind of law in Arizona will have to be vigilant.

“We are asking for people to email their legislators and tell them that you don’t support abortion bans, that you don’t support something similar to SB 8 being enacted here in our state,’’ she said.

Herrod said there are other circumstances where a private citizen can enforce laws.

“If you walk by a car that’s locked and you see a child that’s inside that car, and it’s in our heat and the child is clearly not going to survive, you’re going to bust open the window and save that child,’’ Herrod said. “That’s analogous to what Texas is trying to do, that the private citizen is able to protect that child from the abortionist’s hand.’’

There was no immediate response to the Supreme Court ruling from Gov. Doug Ducey, who has signed every abortion restriction that has reached his desk. ν

By Howard Fischer

Capitol Media Services

 

T

he head of the state’s premier anti-abortion organizations said she is looking to use the newly enacted Texas ban on the terminating a pregnancy after fetal heartbeat has been detected as a template for legislation here.

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Texas law to take effect appears to provide a “road map’’ for enacting abortion restrictions in this state that, until now, have been struck down by federal courts.

But the key to the Supreme Court action is the difference between SB 8 and all other abortion restrictions.

Laws from other states make it a crime to terminate a pregnancy in certain situations or after a certain date, with the state in charge of enforcing the law and prosecuting offenders.

For example, a 2012 Arizona law to make it a crime to perform an abortion after 20 weeks was struck down by a federal court, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court. Similar laws from other states have met similar fates.

In Texas, however, the law empowers individual citizens – and not necessarily from Texas – to file civil suits against not only abortion providers but anyone who “aids or abets’’ aborting a fetus after a heartbeat has been detected. A judge late last week barred citizens from going to Planned Parenthood clinics to test the law there.

A heartbeat usually occurs about six weeks into pregnancy, which may be before a woman knows she is carrying a child. It also could effectively become a nearly total ban on the procedure based on estimates that at least 85 percent of abortions are performed after that point.

Herrod is taking a closer look at what she calls a “novel approach’’ to restricting abortion.

“The Texas heartbeat law is a road map to what other states can do,’’ she told Capitol Media Services. “The Texas heartbeat law is worthy of serious consideration by the Arizona Legislature.’’

SB 8 spells out that its ban on post-heartbeat abortions is enforced only by individuals who can sue doctors, friends, associates or others that help a woman terminate a pregnancy. It even provides for them to recover their legal fees and offers a $10,000 minimum reward for every successful lawsuit.

Herrod isn’t the only one paying attention to the ruling and what it could mean in Arizona.

So is Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix.

She is the sponsor of a new Arizona law which makes it a crime, enforceable by the state, to abort a fetus due to “genetic abnormalities.’’ That law is set to take effect at the end of this month, though there is a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

Barto said she wants to see how this particular approach to banning abortions at six weeks is considered by the courts on its merits. But the senator indicated she is hopeful.

“So far, it’s saving lives,’’ Barto said of the Texas statute. “And that should encourage everyone who cares about protecting life in the womb.’’

The ruling, however, concerns Planned Parenthood of Arizona. Spokeswoman Murphy Bannerman pointed out that the law Barto already ushered through actually has some of the same elements of civil enforcement as the Texas statute.

For example, she noted, the law does more than make it a crime to perform an abortion knowing that the reason was the genetic abnormality. It also allows the husband of the woman who has such a procedure to file a civil suit on behalf of the unborn child.

And if the woman is younger than 18, her parents can sue.

What all that means, Bannerman said, is that those who want to preclude this kind of law in Arizona will have to be vigilant.

“We are asking for people to email their legislators and tell them that you don’t support abortion bans, that you don’t support something similar to SB 8 being enacted here in our state,’’ she said.

Herrod said there are other circumstances where a private citizen can enforce laws.

“If you walk by a car that’s locked and you see a child that’s inside that car, and it’s in our heat and the child is clearly not going to survive, you’re going to bust open the window and save that child,’’ Herrod said. “That’s analogous to what Texas is trying to do, that the private citizen is able to protect that child from the abortionist’s hand.’’

There was no immediate response to the Supreme Court ruling from Gov. Doug Ducey, who has signed every abortion restriction that has reached his desk. 

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