(Reuters) – Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey on Wednesday signed a bill banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a restriction the U.S. Supreme Court could soon declare to be constitutional when it finishes reviewing a similar Mississippi ban this spring.
The Arizona measure, passed by the Republican-led legislature last week, states that physicians can provide abortions after 15 weeks only in cases of medical emergency. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.
Physicians who violate the law may be prosecuted for a felony and could have their licenses revoked if convicted.
“In Arizona, we know there is immeasurable value in every life – including preborn life,” the governor wrote in a letter on Wednesday. “I believe it is each state’s responsibility to protect them.”
Republican-led states are rapidly passing anti-abortion legislation this year with the anticipation that the Supreme Court will reinstate Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. The court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, expressed openness to Mississippi’s case during oral arguments in December.
The court’s decision could overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade precedent, which established the right to abortion before the fetus is viable, and it could pave the way for states to successfully pass stricter bans.
Florida and Kentucky legislatures also recently passed 15-week bans that now await approval from those states’ governors.
Brittany Fonteno, president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, has criticized the state’s bill as “harmful to pregnant people and their families” and said it was part of a longer-term effort to make abortion illegal in Arizona.
“The continued attacks on reproductive rights and freedom have become commonplace and continue with Governor Ducey’s signing of S.B. 1164 into law today,” Fonteno said in a statement on Wednesday.
New laws typically take effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns in Arizona, which would make this law effective by late summer if it is not successfully challenged in court.
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Aurora Ellis)