February 28, 2014 — The conservative group behind a controversial Arizona bill allowing businesses to refuse service to people for religious reasons is also championing an antiabortion-rights measure (HB 2284), the New York Times reports (Santos, New York Times, 2/27).
The antiabortion-rights bill, proposed by state Rep. Debbie Lesko (R), would eliminate a requirement that the state Department of Health Services obtain an administrative warrant before unannounced inspections at any of the state's nine abortion clinics (AP/The Oklahoman, 2/27). The bill would also require clinics to report to the state if "an infant is born alive after a botched abortion."
The state House gave the bill initial approval on Thursday, but lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement to delay a final vote until next week, the Times reports.
Clashes With Gov. Brewer
Debate over the bill comes amid growing tension between Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), the state Legislature and the Center for Arizona Policy, an evangelical Christian group behind much of the conservative legislation in the state. Brewer on Wednesday rejected a bill promoted by the group that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gay men, lesbians and other individuals on religious grounds.
In vetoing the bill, Brewer also reminded the Legislature that she had clearly outlined her "priorities for this session," which included the state budget and improvements to child-protection programs. "Instead, this [bill] is the first policy bill to cross my desk," she said.
Brewer's objectives occasionally fall in line with those of the Center for Arizona Policy, the Times notes. However, she "objects to the methods" the group uses, according to an aide (New York Times, 2/27).
Lesko promoted the clinic inspection bill as a way to protect women. According to a DHS spokesperson, the agency has received five complaints about clinic safety over the last three years, and it has only sought and obtained an administrative warrant for one of those complaints.
However, opponents argued that the abortion clinics have special precautions in place to protect against potentially violent protesters, adding that the clinics are already held accountable through scheduled inspections and need to protect patients' privacy. State Rep. Victoria Steele (D) said, "This is a bill in search of a problem. It is unnecessary. They are just using scare tactics" (AP/The Oklahoman, 2/27).