In the race to secure the most destructive state anti-abortion law, Arizona may leap ahead of South Dakota by seeking to tackle a problem that doesn’t exist. In a 41–18 vote last month, the House passed a bill to prohibit abortions sought because of the race or sex of the fetus or the race of the parent. Seeking to prevent “race- or sex-based discrimination against the unborn,” the bill would allow lawsuits and civil fines against “abortion providers who knowingly provide such abortions.”
On Monday, the Arizona Senate passed bill on a 21–5 vote. But unsatisfied with civil fines, the Senate upped the ante by “adding provisions which could send doctors and others involved in these acts to prison.” Now, the bill, which is headed to Gov. Jan Brewer (R), will ensure that any doctor or employees of clinics like Planned Parenthood that terminates a pregnancy based on race or gender would face 3.5 years in jail:
HB 2443 does more than make criminals out of doctors who terminate a pregnancy knowing the woman’s reason is to select the race or gender of the child. It also imposes criminal penalties on anyone who solicits or accepts funds to finance abortions based on race or sex.
Violators would face a presumptive prison term of 3.5 years.That latter provision is aimed at Planned Parenthood. Proponents of the measure, citing undercover videos, say organization representatives have taken money from individuals interested in limiting births to African American women.
Arizona’s bill is modeled after U.S. Rep. Trent Franks’ (R-AZ) Susan B. Anthony Frederick Douglass Prenatal Discrimination Act, or “Predna” Act, which would insert criminal penalties for race- or sex-based abortions into the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Hoping to “blow a fatal hole in Roe v. Wade,” Franks said that his bill “establishes that unborn children are persons, too.” But Arizona may succeed before Franks gets the chance. The bill is headed to Brewer’s desk possibly by the end of the month and Brewer “has signed every measure restricting abortion that has been sent to her.”