New Bill Would Re-Define Beginning of Life

Feb 1, 2012

A state senator is proposing new procedural hurdles for women who want an abortion. 

Senator Steve Smith said Arizona already has fairly substantial laws requiring that women give "informed consent'' before terminating a pregnancy. That includes everything from a discussion of the risks and a 24-hour waiting period, to offering to let the woman see an ultrasound of the fetus. But Smith wants to add several more things based on what would be a new provision in state law that would define life as beginning at conception.

Smith said, "Yes, when they see images and yes when they see this, but when they see what you're killing is a human being in front of them, I think that's hopefully just one more stopgate in their mental processing to say, 'Oh, it's not just an amalgamation of cells and globs of this and plasma this and blood this. It's an actual real human.'"

But language about when life begins has deeper implications.  It could pave the way for abortion foes to use the Arizona statute to undermine the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal. 

"If the Supreme Court now decides that language is correct and what you're killing is a human being," said Smith, "well, we have a little law that you can't kill human beings."

And he said that means the high court will have to reexamine its rationale behind Roe v. Wade.

A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood said her organization has no comment on the measure.