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Arizona House to consider abortion restrictions

In this photo taken Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011, a statue representing women's empowerment stands in front of a Planned Parenthood facility in Tucson, Ariz. Planned Parenthood, a perennial protest target because of its role in providing abortions, has notified the FBI that at least 12 of its health centers were visited recently by a man purporting to be a sex trafficker but who may instead be part of an attempted ruse to entrap clinic employees. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

In this photo taken Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011, a statue representing women's empowerment stands in front of a Planned Parenthood facility in Tucson, Ariz. Planned Parenthood, a perennial protest target because of its role in providing abortions, has notified the FBI that at least 12 of its health centers were visited recently by a man purporting to be a sex trafficker but who may instead be part of an attempted ruse to entrap clinic employees. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Arizona House on Monday is scheduled to consider bills to place new restrictions on abortions, including steps that Planned Parenthood Arizona says would force it to drop medication abortions in its clinics outside the Phoenix and Tucson areas.

Under one bill, current state regulations for staffing and facilities of clinics that provide surgical abortions also would apply to satellite clinics which only provide medication abortions performed by nurse-practitioners.

Planned Parenthood Arizona has said it would need to have each clinic, meaning that it would not provide medication abortions at clinics in Flagstaff, Prescott and Yuma.

Medication abortions now account for half the abortions performed in Arizona, according to a state report.

The bill is championed by the Center for Arizona Policy, an anti-abortion advocacy group for Christian conservatives.

CAP said the measure updates the state’s decade-old law on regulation of abortion clinics to ensure patient safety with the growing popularity of medication abortion. Patient safety should take priority over possible loss of easy access to abortion, according to Deborah Sheasby, a CAP attorney.

The bill also would require that abortion doctors offer their patients ultrasound images before ending their pregnancies. Doctors also would have to offer women seeking an abortion a chance to hear their unborn child’s heartbeat if one is audible.

Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said his organization already offers to show ultrasound images. He said the proposed mandates are intended to put bureaucratic hurdles in front of people seeking abortions in order to discourage people from ending pregnancies.

The House on Monday also was to consider a separate bill to prohibit abortions sought because of the race or sex of the fetus or the race of a parent. An abortion provider who knowingly provides such an abortion could be sued and face civil fines.

Supporters said during a committee hearing on that bill that they want Arizona to prevent discrimination-based abortions, and they disagreed with opponents over whether there’s evidence that abortions to select race and sex are actually occurring in Arizona.

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