- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - An Arizona House committee approved a bill Wednesday to require doctors who perform abortions to try to revive fetuses showing any signs of life and to have the equipment they would need ready so they can do so.

The House Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety voted 6-3 to send the legislation to the full House. The Senate already passed the bill 18-12 in February, with all Republicans and Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix, supporting it.

Supporters say the bill would ensure babies who survive abortions are given life-saving care, citing two cases in Arizona in which abortions resulted in live births but the infants died due to lack of care. Opponents say the measure would cause futile pain to infants born too early to survive or with premature defects that will lead to their deaths.

Senate Bill 1367 would require clinics that perform abortions at 20 weeks or more to have available equipment on hand to care for a fetus delivered alive. The legislation defines “delivered alive” as evidence of breathing, a heartbeat, umbilical cord pulsation, or movement of voluntary muscles. The measure would require the same medical care for situations when women are not trying to terminate pregnancies.

It would also mandate doctors who find themselves dealing with a born-alive case to make a report to the state Department of Health Services.

Sponsor Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, has called the legislation “the good Samaritan abortion bill,” and said he thinks it should bridge common ground for those on both sides of the aisle on the issue.

“This bill is not about Planned Parenthood, it’s not even really about abortions per se,” Smith said. “We’re just talking about a living baby in front of you with clear signs of life.”

Dr. Peter Stevenson, a neonatologist, testified that the current standard of care is not to resuscitate fetuses delivered prior to 22 weeks in Arizona and throughout the U.S.

“It’s unethical and against the physician’s oath to do no harm to provide anything more invasive or extensive than comfort measures alone,” he said.

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy anti-abortion group, said doctors should be required to give all infants who survive abortions any available care.

“This is about babies that are delivered alive and deserve a chance at life and deserve to have a law that is enforceable,” Herrod said.

The Republican-controlled Legislature regularly passes legislation attempting to restrict abortion and abortion-providers, and Gov. Doug Ducey is a strong abortion opponent.

Last year the Legislature voted to repeal two laws on abortion previously signed by Ducey, after state attorneys said they appeared to be indefensible in court.

The governor later signed another bill allowing the state to make it easier to cut off Medicaid funding to providers that fail to segregate taxpayer money from funds used to provide abortions.

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