AZ Legislature Passes “Pregnancy Begins 2 Weeks Before Conception” Bill

 

Arizona‘s Legislature yesterday afternoon passed three harsh anti-abortion bills, including one that defines pregnancy as being two weeks before conception. Known in some circles as the “egg drop” bill, lawmakers apparently believe they are more knowledgable than physicians at determining gestational age. The attempt to redefine pregnancy of course is to reduce the legal window of when a woman may have an abortion. Arizona Republican “pro-life” Governor Jan Brewer would not comment on her intent to sign or veto the bill.

UPDATE: ‘Pregnancy Begins 2 Weeks Before Conception’ Now The Law In Arizona

“State Rep. Kimberly Yee (R-Phoenix), the bill’s sponsor, was not immediately available for comment. Her assistant said that Yee, a former aide to former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), was voting on the House floor,” The Huffington Post reports:

State Rep. Matt Heinz (D-Tucson), a physician, said he did not want the state to set the gestational age since science could not provide a precise one. “I imagine it will be a legal dispute. How can a judge determine gestational age?” Heinz said. “If medical science can only determine gestational age to within 10-14 days, how can a superior court judge do it?”

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill to prohibit abortions after the 18th week of pregnancy; a bill to protect doctors from being sued if they withhold health information about a pregnancy that could cause a woman to seek an abortion; and a bill to mandate that how school curriculums address the topic of unwanted pregnancies.

The 18th week bill includes a new definition for when pregnancy begins. All of the bills passed the Senate and now head to Gov. Jan Brewer (R) for her signature or veto. Passage of the late-term abortion bill would give Arizona the earliest definition of late-term abortion in the country; most states use 20 weeks as a definition.

A sentence in the bill defines gestational age as “calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman,” which would move the beginning of a pregnancy up two weeks prior to conception.

Elizabeth Nash, states issues manager for Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization in Washington, said the definition corresponds with how doctors typically determine gestational age. She said since the exact date of conception cannot be pinpointed, doctors use the day of the woman’s last menstrual period to gauge the duration of a pregnancy. The method does not provide an exact date.

“It will have some impact, from what we understand there are abortions provided at that point in Arizona,” Nash said. “It will reduce access.”

 

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