PHOENIX — Republicans who control the Arizona Legislature approved a proposal requiring abortion clinics to ask women if they are victims of sex assault, incest or sex trafficking and provide the patient with ways to contact law enforcement.
The measure goes to Gov. Doug Ducey for his expected signature.
The Senate vote Wednesday came two days the House approved the measure after hours of debate that pitted Republicans who mainly oppose abortion against Democrats who support a woman’s right to choose.
The legislation boosts provider reporting requirements, and requires doctors to ask patients seeking an abortion if they are being coerced into seeking an abortion or are victims of sex trafficking, incest, sexual assault or domestic violence. Women don’t have to answer.
All but one Democrat in the Legislature opposed the measure, saying it is designed to intimate patients. All but one Republican supported it, calling it a common-sense measure to protect women.
The final Senate vote gave both sides another chance to voice their opinions in what is an annual debate that is mainly won by Republicans who oppose abortion and control the Legislature and governor’s office.
“We really need to reject the notion that this is a pro-life versus pro-choice issue,” Republican Sen. Nancy Barto said on the Senate floor. “We need to reject the notion that asking a woman, allowing her the opportunity to disclose her coercion into having an abortion, is somehow shaming.”
Republican Sen. Steve Smith acknowledged the legislation laid bare the divide over abortion.
“I’ve heard that this is a bill that could potentially be harassing to women,” Smith said. “However, if this were an ideological agenda bill I would always side with the approximately 60 million babies that have been murdered since Roe v. Wade. I would always side on their side if that were the debate.”
Democratic Sen. Katie Hobbs led the charge from minority Democrats.
“I’ve said many times about this bill that the motivation is to simply harass and intimidate and shame the women who go into receive this constitutionally protected procedure as well as the doctors who provide it,” Hobbs said.
Republicans who control both chambers of the Legislature pass anti-abortion bills each session. Ducey has routinely signed them, even those on shaky constitutional grounds.
The proposal came from Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, a powerful social conservative group that backs anti-abortion legislation every session as well as religious freedom and school choice bills.
It originally contained language that required doctors to ask very specific questions about why a woman was seeking an abortion, but that was stripped out and the new coercion language added earlier this week.
“This vote should have been unanimous by both houses,” Herrod said in a statement.
__ The legislation is Senate Bill 1394 .