Arizona just became the sixth state in the U.S. to introduce a copycat bill of the draconian Texas abortion ban.
State Rep. Teresa Martinez (R) kicked off Arizona’s 2022 legislative session by introducing H.B. 2483, titled the Arizona Heartbeat Act. Similar to the Texas legislation, the Arizona bill bans abortion around the six-week point (a period in which most people don’t yet know they’re pregnant) and financially incentivizes private citizens to sue anyone who aids or abets a pregnant person trying to get an abortion after that point.
If the bill passes, any private citizen can bring a civil suit against a physician who performs an abortion after the six-week point, or against anyone who helps a pregnant person get an abortion, which includes “paying for or reimbursing the cost of an abortion,” according to the bill text. If a person in Arizona successfully sues under H.B. 2483, they could receive a bounty of at least $10,000 and have all of their legal fees paid for by the opposing side.
Arizona’s H.B. 2483 does not make exceptions for abortion in cases of rape or incest, but the bill’s authors note that an abuser who impregnates their victim “through an act of sexual assault or incest” is prohibited from bringing civil action.
Martinez did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
The Arizona state legislature has a narrow Republican majority in both chambers, as well as a Republican governor. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has been outspoken in his support of anti-abortion legislation and most recently signed a restriction into law that bans abortion due to genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the Texas law in November and handed down a ruling last month. The conservative majority on the high court allowed the state’s extreme enforcement mechanism and six-week abortion ban to continue as the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ban proceeds in lower courts. A federal appeals court rejected an appeal from the abortion rights side earlier this week, passing the case off to the Texas Supreme Court.
The go-ahead from the Supreme Court has galvanized many anti-abortion radicals to create and support more abortion restrictions. “Wherever we go, whether that be in Texas or Nebraska or Ohio or Kentucky or Florida… we can go anywhere now and say, look, this enforcement mechanism has survived before the Supreme Court of the United States,” Mark Lee Dickson, the architect of the Texas abortion restriction, said last month.
Several other states have introduced copycat legislation, including Arkansas, Florida, Ohio, Alabama and Missouri. But the bills out of Arkansas and Ohio go a step further and ban abortion at any point in a pregnancy. Technically, Arkansas lawmakers did not formally introduce their bill but rather filed it during a special legislative session this fall. The special session was shut down without formal introduction, meaning the copycat bill is not currently moving through the Arkansas state legislature but likely will be once it’s back in session in February.
Lawmakers in South Carolina, Georgia, Indiana and elsewhere have expressed support for passing similar legislation in their home states. Yet according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, about two-thirds of Americans say the Texas law should be struck down by the Supreme Court.
“The introduction of H.B. 2483 is yet another signal to all Arizonians that the fight for abortion access is happening right here at home,” Brittany Fonteno, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, told HuffPost.
“It is clear that the Supreme Court’s inaction on Texas’ unconstitutional abortion ban has emboldened anti-abortion legislators in Arizona to copy S.B. 8 and continue to push for extreme restrictions on reproductive freedom in our state.”
“The right to accessible, affordable, and informed reproductive health care should be inalienable, yet we are seeing attack after attack fueled by misinformation and stigma in Arizona,” Fonteno continued. “Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona stands with all our patients and providers and opposes this ban and all infringements on the right to abortion. We will continue to fight for all people’s rights to control their bodies, families, and futures.”
Arizona is clearly preparing for a reality in which the Supreme Court overturns or guts Roe v. Wade in the wake of oral arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. The case centers on a 15-week abortion ban out of Mississippi and threatens the constitutional right to abortion.
H.B. 2483 specifically states that several of the affirmative defenses listed in the bill are no longer available if “the United States Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade… or Planned Parenthood v. Casey… regardless of whether the conduct on which the cause of action is based… occurred before the Supreme Court overruled either of those decisions.”
The decision in the Dobbs case is expected sometime this spring.