PHOENIX — The Arizona Senate has approved a sweeping bill that generally bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and institutes disclosure mandates, including one that requires women to look at a state-run website with images of fetuses.

The 20-week abortion ban, which does not apply in medical emergencies, would affect a tiny percentage of abortions performed in Arizona. The state joins Nebraska and a handful of other states that have similar bans.

Democrats argue that doctors cannot determine to a precise week how far along the pregnancy has progressed and that setting an “arbitrary” deadline would likely prevent physicians from diagnosing anomalies in the fetus.

Republicans supporting the measure dispute that, saying the risks to women’s health after 20 weeks are much greater. They also claimed that after that point in development, a fetus can feel pain.

An earlier version of the legislation was introduced in the House but stalled. Republicans later resurrected it in the Senate.  

Arizona already has laws about “informed consent” requirements, a prohibition on a type of late-term abortions and regulations of abortion clinics. The new proposal would require the state health department maintain an extensive website that provides information about alternatives to abortion, medical risks and descriptions and images of fetuses at various stages of development.

The proposal increases the current requirement that an ultrasound be performed before an abortion from one hour to 24 hours before. It also requires abortion clinics to post signs providing notice that it’s illegal for anyone to coerce a woman to have an abortion.

The bill, which passed on a 20-10 vote, returns to the House for final approval.


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