by Steven Ertelt
February 14, 2008
Phoenix, AZ (LifeNews.com) — The Arizona legislature is the next state looking to ban partial-birth abortions following a Supreme Court decision last April upholding a federal ban on the gruesome three-day-long abortion procedure. States are banning the abortions to allow local officials assist federal authorities in enforcing the law.
On Wednesday, the Arizona House Health Committee voted 5-4 on a party-line vote to approve the bill and now it heads to the full State House for its consideration.
Lawmakers initially backed a partial-birth abortion ban in 1997, but a federal judge declared it unconstitutional. The attorney general filed an appeal but Gov. Janet Napolitano dropped the case when she took over as the state’s top attorney.
Ron Johnson, of the Arizona Catholic Conference, told Arizona Daily Star that he thinks lower courts would follow the Supreme Court’s lead if another case went back to trial.
"We have a road map now in terms of what the court will deem permissible in this area," he said. He said House Bill 2769 has been "carefully drafted in order to essentially mirror federal legislation that we know is permissible and is something that works."
Johnson told the newspaper that the new ban is needed even though a federal law has been approved so county attorneys can help make sure local abortion practitioners don’t violate the partial-birth abortion ban.
Under the bill, anyone who does the abortion procedure would spend 18 months in prison.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court and indicated that the abortion advocates who sued to overturn the ban "have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases."
The high court previously invalidated a Nebraska partial-birth abortion ban in 2000 in the Carhart case, which caused other state bans to be unconstitutional.
President Bush signed the national partial-birth abortion ban into law in 2003 and abortion advocates took it to court in three separate lawsuits and federal courts in each case relied on the Supreme Court’s decision in 2000 and declared the ban unconstitutional.
Much of the debate revolved around whether a partial-birth abortion is ever medically necessary.
Dr. Anthony Levatino, a Las Cruces, New Mexico OBGYN who formerly did abortions in New York, says a partial-birth abortion is a three day long process and would never be a medical procedure a doctor would need to use to protect a woman’s health.
"The way you end a pregnancy to save a woman’s life is to deliver the (baby)," Levatino said. "If you wait three days to do a partial birth abortion, she’s going to end up in the morgue."
Levatino said the health exception abortion advocates want is a "legal tactic" that has no basis in medical fact.