Arizona Republicans Now Seek Warrantless Searches of Abortion Clinics


Rep. Debbie Lesko/Facebook

Following her veto of Senate Bill 1062, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer reprimanded Republican legislators for focusing on social issues instead of "passing a responsible budget that continues Arizona's economic comeback." Naturally, they responded by immediately taking up a new piece of abortion related legislation.

The bill, backed by the Center for Arizona Policy (the same group that pushed SB 1062), would do away with the state health department's need to obtain an administrative warrant in order to search abortion clinics, among other things. Its sponsor, state Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria), says there's no reason abortion clinics shouldn't be subjected to the same kind of surprise inspections "that happen at Burger King and McDonald's."

Should the measure pass, a lawsuit is almost certain, according to Arizona's Northwest Valley News. A federal appeals court blocked a similar Arizona measure in 2004, concluding that abortion clinics differ from other types of health facilities because of patients' need for an "enhanced level of privacy."

Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix … predicted that if this measure is approved it will wind up back in court, with a similar result — but only after the state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to defend the measure.

When that argument failed to sway supporters, Cardenas tried a different tactic. He offered an amendment saying that if the law is changed and the state loses, then the cost of the legal fight should come directly out of the budgets controlled by the House speaker and Senate president and not from other taxpayer dollars.

After being initially approved by the Arizona House on Thursday, a final vote on the measure (House Bill 2284) was postponed until next week.