A new Republican-backed measure was advanced yesterday in Arizona and could soon make surprise inspections of abortion clinics a reality. The bill passed by 34-22 in the state House of Representatives and would no longer make it necessary for a warrant to be obtained from a judge in order to inspect abortion clinics in Arizona. Other medical facilities throughout the state do not require a warrant to be searched. There are currently nine abortion clinics throughout Arizona.
“This is not a pro-life versus pro-choice issue. This is about the healthiness of a facility where a woman goes to get a procedure done,” said Republican Representative Debbie Lesko, the bill’s sponsor. “What is it that they have to hide?”
Even if the bill gets passed, it certainly won’t be put into law quietly. Democrats have already vowed to challenge it in court if it gets passed, while Arizona state Representative Lisa Otondo described it as “a slap in the face to women and to taxpayers who end up paying for unconstitutional bills.” Planned Parenthood Arizona president Bryan Howard said the bill would “open the door to provider and patient harassment.”
Arizona already has some of the strictest abortion regulations of any state. A law from 2012 banned abortions from 20 weeks gestation, except in medical emergencies, but a federal appeals court struck it down last year as unconstitutional. Arizona lawmakers previously approved surprise inspections in 1999, but that provision was also wiped away after being deemed unconstitutional.
The abortion clinic bill becoming a reality will ultimately rest with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signing it into law if it’s approved by the state Senate. She recently vetoed a bill that would allow businesses to refuse service to gay people on the basis of “sincerely held” religious beliefs.