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Arizona Senate OKs bill restricting abortion services

The Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to legislation that broadens the definition of abortion and adds requirements before a woman may undergo the procedure.

The bill’s next stop is the governor’s desk.

The measure, which was approved by an 18-10 vote, changes the definition of abortion to include the use of “any means” to terminate a pregnancy.

Current law defines abortion as the use of surgical instrument or a machine to achieve the same end.

The provision is a response to medication abortion, which pro-life policymakers say is considerably riskier than surgical abortion. Medication abortion is an alternative to terminate a pregnancy in its earliest stages.

The bill, HB2416, also prohibits an abortion before two conditions are met.

First, the physician must perform an ultrasound of the fetus and offer to provide the woman with the chance to view the ultrasound image and hear its heartbeat.

Second, the mother must certify that she was given the chance to view the ultrasound and hear the fetus’ heartbeat.

Under the legislation, physicians who violate the bill’s provisions could lose their license.

The bill also allows the woman’s relatives to sue doctors for violations and to recover monetary damages.

Critics said anti-abortion legislation like this limits women’s ability to decide what to do about their own health, and presupposes that the decision to abort a fetus is an easy one.

This bill, opponents said, makes it harder for women, especially in rural areas, to get a legal abortion. They added that it infantilizes women and undermines and interferes with the relationship with their physicians, which is a private matter.

But backers said women aren’t being denied an abortion under the legislation.

Instead, it protects their health, they said.

Advocates of pro-life legislation have argued that more should be done to protect the unborn, and that the state has an inherent interest in preserving life.

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