A series of new restrictions on abortions in the last four years has propelled the state into the Top Five of places considered most friendly to "pro-life'' issues.
Four years ago, Americans United for Life ranked Arizona 29th. By last year it was 14th. And now it finds Arizona the fifth best state for abortion restrictions. The group said one big reason is Arizona's ban on abortion at 20 weeks. While other states have similar laws, Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy said the measure here is different.
"Americans United for Life and the Center for Arizona Policy focused the Arizona ban on abortions after 20 weeks on the mother's health," Herrod said. "The other states that have a ban on abortions after 20 weeks are more focused on fetal pain and the preborn child feeling pain from the abortion. In Arizona we did both."
Denise Burke of Americans United for Life said that difference is significant, saying the Supreme Court has been more receptive to laws focused on women's health. And that could make the Arizona law -- currently on hold on order of the 9th Circuit -- the template for the rest of the country. Michelle Steinberg of Planned Parenthood said that fifth place is nothing to be proud of.
"I don't think this is an honor to be designated as a state that is the most so-called pro life state," Steinberg said. "Basically what this does is highlight the fact that Arizona continues to be the state that attacks access on women's health care."
But Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed that law and others, cheered the designation and promised to work for further restrictions.