Breaking: Gov. Hobbs Vetoes Personhood Bill That Would Have Further Criminalized Abortion

By Camaron Stevenson

April 3, 2023

“The end goal is to outlaw abortion outright.”

An anti-abortion law disguised as a measure to protect victims of domestic assault was vetoed by Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs Monday morning. 

“Arizona law already allows for the court to consider the pregnancy of a victim as a factor in sentencing,” Hobbs wrote in her letter informing the legislature of her veto. “I’ve seen first-hand the needs of victims seeking safety and stability. I encourage the legislature to focus on those needs.”

No Input From Domestic Violence Victim Advocacy Groups

While the sponsor of House Bill 2427, Republican Rep. Matt Gress, stated repeatedly that his intention with the bill was to provide more support for pregnant victims of domestic violence, he failed to consult with organizations that work with victims of domestic assault. Gress did, however, work with the anti-abortion group Center for Arizona Policy while crafting the bill.

Organizations like the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACDV), which have worked directly with victims in Arizona for the past 30 years, opposed the bill. Similar to what Hobbs said in her letter, ACDV said there was no evidence that the proposal would help victims, and in fact, could put them at risk of more violence from their abuser.

A Trojan Horse Approach to Outlaw Abortion

Several lawmakers came out against the bill repeatedly while it was discussed at the legislature, pointing out that the language in the bill was geared more toward redefining what the law considers a person rather than addressing the needs of victims of domestic violence.

“It’s a term called ‘fetal personhood,’ which essentially tries to write into law that a fetus should be treated as a person under the law,” Phoenix Democratic Rep. Analise Ortiz told The Copper Courier. “These bills are part of a bigger strategy we’ve seen in other states to essentially write into law that a fetus has more rights than a pregnant person. The end goal is to outlaw abortion outright.”

@coppercourier

How are bills claiming to support victims of domestic violence being used to outlaw abortion care—and potentially increase Arizona’s already massive prison population? @repanaliseortiz breaks down how this works, and why actual bills that support victims are being ignored by Republicans at the Arizona Legislature. #azleg #azpol #fyp #poltok #domesticviolencesurvivor #domesticviolenceawareness #abortionishealthcare #abortionrights #abortionban

♬ original sound – Copper Courier

Arizona already has a personhood law on the books, but a federal court has put that law on hold, at least for now. 

“Because the Personhood Provision fails to provide adequate notice of prohibited conduct and invites arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement against Plaintiffs and their patients, it is unconstitutionally vague,” lawyers who challenged Arizona’s law wrote.

As it stands, Arizona healthcare providers operate under a 15-week abortion ban, meaning persons who are pregnant cannot receive access to abortion services if they are found to have been pregnant for more than 15 weeks. 

Personhood, Explained

In its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision providing the right to abortion nationwide, the US Supreme Court majority found that “the word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.”

Some anti-abortion advocates say that is wrong, arguing that personhood includes fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses that should be considered people with the same rights as those already born.

Those who advocate this standard of personhood want to end all abortions, and decry laws that include carve-outs allowing abortion in cases of rape or incest, or fetuses with genetic anomalies.

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Author

  • Camaron Stevenson

    Camaron is the Founding Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for The Copper Courier, and has worked as a journalist in Phoenix for over a decade. He also teaches multimedia journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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