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Gov. Brewer signs Arizona bill with 20-week abortion ban

AP

Gov. Jan Brewer on Thursday signed legislation making Arizona the latest state that generally bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The Republican-sponsored legislation also institutes new disclosure mandates that include requiring the state have a website with images of fetuses at various stages of development for women to view.

The 20-week abortion ban does not apply in medical emergencies, and it would affect a tiny percentage of abortions performed in Arizona.

Critics argued that the 20-week deadline would likely prevent timely diagnosis of anomalies in the fetus.

Supporters disputed that. They also said risks to women's health increase after 20 weeks, and they said a fetus can feel pain after that point in development.

Brewer signed the bill two days after House approval completed final legislative action.

She said in a statement that the bill "strengthens Arizona's laws protecting the health and safety of women, and recognizes the precious life of the preborn baby."

Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement the bill means some women at risk of pregnancy complications "will be forced to decide whether to proceed with their pregnancies in the dark, before they have all the information they need to arrive at their choices."

Nebraska enacted a 20-week ban in 2010. It was followed by Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina and Oklahoma last year.

Arizona now allows abortions up to when a fetus can survive outside of the womb. That's generally considered to be around 23 to 24 weeks.

The bill signed by Brewer would require the state health department maintain an extensive website that provides information about alternatives to abortion, medical risks and descriptions and images of fetuses at various stages of development.

The proposal increases the current requirement that an ultrasound be performed before an abortion from one hour to 24 hours before. It also requires abortion clinics to post signs providing notice that it's illegal for anyone to coerce a woman to have an abortion.

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