Arizona passes uterus-bogglingly bad abortion ban

Yesterday, the Arizona House passed a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks. It now heads to the desk of Governor Jan Brewer. Brewer has five days to veto it, or else it will become law.

According to the Arizona Republic:

The bill would make numerous changes to abortion laws, including banning abortions after 20 weeks except in a “medical emergency,” allowing doctors to prescribe medication abortion pills only through the seventh week of pregnancy and requiring clinics to perform an ultrasound 24 hours before an abortion instead of the current requirement of an hour before.

It also would set up several new requirements. Clinics must post signs saying it is against the law to coerce a woman into having an abortion, physicians must provide additional information about health risks and the state must create a website with abortion health risks, contact information for adoption agencies and photos or drawings of developing fetuses.

This makes Arizona the sixth state to enact a 20-week abortion ban (welcome to the world’s shittiest club! Your fellow members include Alabama, Idao, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina and Oklahoma!).

But, as Kate Sheppard at MoJo points out, it’s really a ban at 18 weeks, since Arizona’s law declares that life begins at the end of your last period, not at conception. Sheppard goes on to lay out just how bad this bill is:

Under this law, if a doctor performs an abortion after that 18-weeks, he or she can be charged with a crime, have his or her license revoked or suspended, and can be held liable for civil penalties if the father of the fetus decides to pursue legal action. The bill also requires a mandatory ultrasound for anyone seeking an abortion at any stage of pregnancy (hello, transvaginal probes) and mandates that a doctor offer to show a pregnant woman the ultrasound, describe it to her verbally and provide her with a photo of “the unborn child.” It would also require a woman to wait 24 hours after the ultrasound before she can obtain an abortion.

But yeah, you’re totally right, Nikki Haley and Reince Priebus, there’s no war on women. This has absolutely nothing to do with taking away women’s rights. I don’t know why you’d look at a law that requires doctors to emotionally manipulate women, allows a man to sue a woman for getting an abortion, and makes a woman give birth to a fetus that has no chance of living and think that it’s about taking away women’s rights. It’s about the value of every human life. As long as that human is less than 20 weeks old and swimming in amniotic fluid.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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Join the Conversation

  • Robert Johnston

    I wonder if Arizona legislators know that a lot of women have highly irregular periods that may come several months apart, or that, for a variety of reasons, women may stop menstruating for a significant period of time without going through menopause. I wonder if Arizona legislators know that women can become pregnant after delivery and before having a period.

    As applied a law that bans abortion more than a certain number of weeks after a woman’s most recent period is facially ridiculous, acting as a total ban from the moment of conception in a very large number of cases. Women are not, contrary to popular belief in certain corners of the universe, machines with menstruation and periods perfectly and perpetually timed to coincide with phases of the moon. Of course for Arizona legislators who do not even understand that women are people none of this matters.

  • Matthew

    As a Virginia resident, if I wasn’t so infuriated by the nonsense in this bill, I’d say, “Thanks, AZ, for making VA look a little less horrible!”

  • rhian

    Just wanted to point out that gestational age is always defined by the first day of last menstrual period. So yes, in terms of biology, you’re more like 18 weeks pregnant. But if you went to an obstetrician, they would say you are 20 weeks pregnant. It’s nothing specific to this bill.

  • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    Since I realized there’s absolutely no new opinion I can add that’s any different from anything I say every time I read staggeringly racist or sexist news from Arizona on here, I’ll spare you all my bad-childhood bitterness and go get a drink instead. You’re welcome! :)

    Ok, before I get a drink I’ll google petitions against this.

  • emily

    This new law is so hypocritical in my opinion. They say that they have to post signs saying they can’t coerce women into having an abortion, yet it is okay to have pictures of developing fetuses in the office? Thats basically the same thing in my opinion! They’re just trying to convince the woman not to have an abortion. Also a man should not be allowed to take legal action. It is the woman’s body and the final decision should be hers.

  • Kaitlin

    These types of things just amaze me. How could you restrict the laws even more and then have little things that are unnecessary to keep the procedure going. The ultrasound is not necessary. You won’t be able to see anything at that time anyway. Plus with the fact that it is a vaginal probe makes it so you won’t really be able to see anything anyway because you can’t get past the cervix. I hate the fact that a man could sue the women for having an abortion. Really, just another thing that they can have power over us for? How is that fair that they can sue us for aborting a child. They don’t have to carry it around for 9 months and then have the baby when it’s time. Not that that is the reason we get them aborted but they just don’t understand. We are trying to make them understand but all that is happening is that people aren’t listening and they are creating more laws like these and that is upsetting women even more. These types of laws and regulations aren’t going to stop women from finding a way to abort the baby if they really want. People find ways around laws all the time. I don’t see why people don’t just get rid of these laws against women and their rights because it is just not fair. If it was flipped and men were the ones to carry babies then all of this would be fine. There wouldn’t be rules on any of this. They would be able to do whatever they wanted, just for the mere fact that they are men.