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Anti-abortion legislation introduced in Arizona as many rally to protect rights

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 21: Melissa Simpson holds up her arm with "My Body My Choice" written on it during a protest against recently passed abortion ban bills at the Georgia State Capitol building, on May 21, 2019 in Atlanta, United States. The bill would ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected. The Alabama abortion law, signed by Gov. Kay Ivey last week, includes no exceptions for cases of rape and incest, outlawing all abortions except when necessary to prevent serious health problems for the woman. Though women are exempt from criminal and civil liability, the new law punishes doctors for performing an abortion, making the procedure a Class A felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison. (Getty Images Photo/Elijah Nouvelage)

PHOENIX — Arizona Republicans introduced legislation this week that would put $7.5 million toward a “family health pilot program” that seeks to “support childbirth as an alternative to abortion,” among other goals.

The legislation was introduced Tuesday, the same day about 200 people rallied at the Arizona State Capitol against multiple states’ strict new abortion regulations, including a near-total ban in Alabama.

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said the point of SB 1547 and HB 2759 is to help make women aware of their choices.

“This is about providing pregnant women with their options, you might even say an informed choice, so they can make an informed decision,” Herrod said.

“Often when a woman goes to an abortion clinic, they’re not given really the full options available to them.”

Jodi Liggett, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, released a statement Wednesday saying the legislation seeks to pressure women into not choosing abortion by referring them to crisis pregnancy centers, which she calls “faux health centers.”

“This bill is simply to appease the Center for Arizona Policy. (Crisis pregnancy centers) are often run by organizations with a particular social agenda,” she said.

“More importantly, they do not inform women about all their options, and instead steer them toward one decision.”

Herrod responded to the statement, saying if critics reread the legislation, they would see it is beneficial to women.

“We’re hoping to really have a major pro-life measure get through the Legislature this year still and provide life-saving alternatives to abortion for both women and preborn children,” she said.

Update: The legislation was defeated in the Arizona Senate on Memorial Day when it failed to pass by one vote. 

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup and Peter Samore and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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