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Lone AZ Republican helps defeat bill that would ban manufacturing, prescribing abortion medication

Rep. Michelle Udall of Mesa, AZ
Michelle Udall/Facebook

One Republican in the Arizona House defected from a united GOP front on Thursday to defeat a measure that would have banned manufacturing or prescribing medication that would cause an abortion.

The bill that unexpectedly failed would have eliminated the choice used by half of the people who have abortions in the state, leaving a surgical procedure as the only option.

“Members, I am about as pro-life as they come,” Rep. Michelle Udall of Mesa said as she joined all Democrats in voting against the measure. “However, in my research of some of these medications, they are used for other purposes as well.

“They’re used for women who have had a miscarriage. They’re also used to treat Cushing’s Syndrome and they have other uses,” she said. “And so to criminalize making these medications and using them will hurt other people.”

Republicans control 31 of 60 seats in the House and the loss of any one means a bill can’t get the needed 31 votes to pass if Democrats are united in opposition. The state has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation and Republicans in Arizona routinely enact bills targeting the procedure.

The measure could return later in the session, but Udall’s statement showed it will need major revisions if backers want it to pass.

The proposal was one of two major anti-abortion bills in the Legislature this year. The other passed the Senate last week. It would outlaw abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy and awaits House action.

Of the more than 13,000 abortions that occurred in Arizona in 2020 half were done using medication and only 636 came after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

A new report released by the Guttmacher Institute shows over half of U.S. abortions are now done with pills rather than surgery.