The state House voted this afternoon to make Arizona the seventh state in the nation to ban abortions at 20 weeks.
Current state law bans abortion of a viable fetus, a point generally thought to be in the 22 to 23 week range. But Rep. Kimberly Yee said that is not justified.
"The medical evidence is clear that the pre-born child has developed pain sensors on their face in the seventh week of life," said Yee. "By the 20th week of life, sensory receptors have developed all over the preborn baby's body."
Rep. Eric Meyer said that claim is not universally accepted. And Meyer who is a doctor, said the law ignores the fact that some fetal anomalies cannot be detected and fully diagnosed until the 20th week of pregnancy. He said while the law does allow an abortion after that point if the woman's life is in danger, there is no exception for the balance of the pregnancy for maternal health or even if it is clear the fetus lacks a brain or kidneys and cannot live.
"To force a woman to carry a fetus that has anomalies that are not compatible with life for 20 weeks isn't a decision we should be making here at the Legislature," Meyer argued. "That's decision for that woman to make with their physician and their family."
The 37-22 vote sends the measure to Gov. Jan Brewer who is on record as wanting to ban all abortions except to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.