New Arizona Law States You're Pregnant Up To Two Weeks Before You're...

New Arizona Law States You're Pregnant Up To Two Weeks Before You're Pregnant


This first happened in April, but it was challenged, and now has officially been signed into law.

Today from The Examiner:

According to Planned Parenthood of Arizona lobbyist Michelle Steinberg, the law will reduce the amount of time a legal abortion can be obtained by women. Steinberg stated that, the law is our nation’s “most extreme piece of anti-abortion legislation.”

The bill was sponsored by Arizona State Rep. Kimberly Yee. Yee is also an ardent supporter of drug testing anyone who receives welfare assistance. She is considered by some to be an “extremist”.

Steinberg explained the law by saying, “The law defines pregnancy in a way that bans abortion two weeks before the other seven states who have similar laws. It calculates gestational age starting with the first day of the last menstrual period rather than the date of conception.”

Has Jan Brewer and the GOPers down there in Arizona just put a bullseye on the state as a Dem pick up in November? Or will this just sway more women nationally from Romney in other states?

I mean, seriously…how can you redefine when conception happens? Was that really their intent with this?

More as it develops…

  • Tully

    You seem to have missed that the 9th Cicrcuit has already granted an emergency request by opponents of the law to keep it from taking effect. That indicates to me that the 9th Circuit found substantial grounds to believe that the law is defective under current standing rulings. From what little I could get out of the articles and related links, I think they’re right.

  • cranky critter

    The primary flaw seems to be, umm, inaccuracy.

    The cynical part of me wonders whether such laws are being passed with a full understanding that they’ll get slapped down immediately. The politicians who pass them get to say “we tried,” and then they get to blame the usual suspects.

  • Kirby Wendler

    I have been around hundreds of fonts for years. I cannot recognize your captcha characters when they are run over the top of each other. Fuck your captcha… I’ll comment elsewhere.

  • Jim S

    Fiscally responsible conservatives wasting their state’s money in lawsuits they know they can’t win. The very definition of integrity.

  • Amy

    This is the exact way that doctors determine how far along in pregnancy you are. I don’t understand the shock.

  • Tully

    cranky, they’re generally passed for three reasons. One is to appease the AngryJesus base. The next is to provide an actual and substantive retardant barrier, even knowing it will probably be temporary. And the third is to generate rulings that eat away at any gray areas in the law, making openings for future legislation.

    Without the statute in front of me I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing this won’t pass the smell test with the Appeals Court, much less SCOTUS.

  • Tully

    Oh, these aren’t the fiscally responsibvle conservatives, Jim. These are the “Jesus told me to” ones. Different crowds, some overlap.

  • Tully

    Amy … no. Due date is usually figured by date of sex after last menses, not last menses itself. When the dates are multiple, it’s generally figured from most likely time of ovulation after last menses that most closely coincides with reported sex.

  • Amy

    Tully, with all due respect, I’ve had 5 children. The very first question the doctor asks is “What is the date of your last period?” A woman is considered 4 weeks pregnant only 2 weeks after conception. Most women who are trying to conceive can take a pregnancy test two weeks after ovulation (and intercourse 😉 and know whether or not they are pregnant. At that point, the doctor usually confirms 4-5 weeks along.

  • Sean

    Not that I agree with the law at all but Amy is right. We have used two different OBs for our two kids and both calculated gestational age based upon my wife’s last menstrual cycle. This was actually an issue for our first since my wife’s period was so irregular. We had to constantly remind them that our child was actually 11 weeks younger than their calculation would indicate because my wife’s cycle is so long.

  • Fuzzy Face

    Tully, if you won’t trust a woman whose actually been through this, will you trust the NIH to know something about medicine?

    “Gestational age is the common term used during pregnancy to describe how far along the pregnancy is. It is measured in weeks, from the first day of the woman’s last menstrual cycle to the current date.”

    The bill defines it the same way. This bill seems to be pretty consistent with those in many other states, and in fact would make Arizona the eighth state to set the limit at 20 weeks (many others set it at either 24 weeks or “viability.”)

    The bill does NOT “define when conception happens.” It simply uses the well-established standard for defining gestational age. The hysteria is misplaced and dishonest.

  • Tully

    With all due respect, I come from a long line of OB/Gyns who literally wrote the standard textbook on the subject. And it’s settled science. Childbirth normally occurs about 38 weeks after conception, which is generally 40 weeks after last menses. Last menses is the “rule of thumb” date used for calculating due date when the actual date of conception is unknown. Some know the actual date, and some do not. Especially if they’ve been working on getting pregnant. The rule of thumb method has built into it a 10-14 day period between last menses and the statistically most likely date of ovulation. The human gestational period is 270 days, which under the rule of thumb works out to 283.4 days from last reported menses.

    And guess what? Regardless of what calculation is used for due date or misused to ballpark “gestational age”, you are not pregnant until you ovulate, insemination occurs, and the fertilized ovum attaches to the uterine wall and triggers certain hormonal changes. And THAT is the date at which “gestational age” begins. The gestational age of a fetus prior to that occuring is ZERO. Not two weeks. Gestational age is not the same thing as term calculation, which is simply a ballpark method of guessing at the most likely due date.

    The legislation quite literally starts counting a woman as pregnant on average about 10-14 days before she is inseminated, which can be 24-72 hours before uterine attachment occurs and gestation actually begins. That a bunch of legislators wish to play word games with established science regarding the definition of “gestational age” highlights what I said in reasons #2 and #3 above about WHY they are making the change.

    Sean, what your wife’s OB’s were calculating was probable due date, then figuring gestational age backwards from that. The rule-of-thumb calculation has available modifications for known irregular or non-28-day cycles. But most OB’s can’t be bothered with the math — and in cases of irregular menses the rule of thumb can be totally wrong by a month or more no matter what method they use. So instead they pull out the little calculator wheel the pharm rep gave them, and spin the dials. Which will give them a due date 283-284 days from last known menses.

  • Fuzzy Face

    Of course you are not pregnant until you ovulate, nor does the bill in question claim otherwise. It simply uses the standard way of estimating gestational age. Have you actually read the bill? It uses the same definition that the NIH does.

    When you say that you “come from a long line of OB/Gyns” are you saying you are yourself an OB/Gyn? Or that your father and his father, etc. are? What textbook, please? Could you link to it and cite the definition it uses for gestational age? Are you saying that the National Institute for Health doesn’t know what they’re talking about?

    I think the confusion here is first from lobbyist Steinberg, who notes that the bill calculates gestational age from from LMP rather than the date of conception. But that’s true for pretty much every other state bill on abortion, with rare exceptions. And as Robin Marty notes it is the correct definition. The difference is that the Arizona law counts the twenty weeks from gestational age, whereas most count it from the estimated conception time.

    The bigger error is this blog post which claims that the AZ bill “redefine[s] the moment when conception occurs.” But the bill does no such thing. Nor does it claim that a woman is pregnant from the beginning of the counting of gestational age.

  • cranky critter

    Of course you are not pregnant until you ovulate, nor does the bill in question claim otherwise. It simply uses the standard way of estimating gestational age. Have you actually read the bill? It uses the same definition that the NIH does.

    Fuzzy, forgive me, but it feels like you are being intentionally obtuse. The clear point is that the method of estimation in the bill OVER-estimates the age of the fetus. Which Tully explained quite clearly.

    It’s an “at most” estimate. How is it that you don’t get this? You seem to be appealing to authority, and implying that we should simply abide by the method used by authorities without ANY REGARD whatsoever for the real-life accuracy of the method in question.

    Estimates are fine for MANY purposes. What’s at issue here is whether the choice to use an intentional OVER-estimate is politically motivated, or based on sound science geared to optimal accuracy.

    Tully is talking about accuracy. You seem interested only in muddying the waters.

  • Amy

    I don’t think the waters are being muddied at all. The only point that is being made is that point of conception is not being redefined. Because of long cycles, the calculation of due date is an educated guess. That is why most OBs will do an early ultrasound to get an exact date. Even when they can measure the baby and fairly accurately know when the baby was conceived, doctors STILL tell you the number of weeks that is two weeks BEFORE your ovulation.

    Most people do know that babies have a gestational time of approx. 38 weeks. This does not change the fact that doctors, baby books, midwives etc. ALL uniformly talk about pregnancy being 40 weeks long. It is sensationalistic and disingenuous to single out Arizona for the wording of a bill that matches the NIH’s definition of gestation.

    You can agree with the bill or not, but to criticize wording that is standardly accepted and used in the medical profession is petty. No one is redefining the point of conception.

  • cranky critter

    Not redefining. Intentionally underestimating.

    Which method of estimating would you prefer, Amy:

    Option A: sometimes as much as 2 weeks off
    Option B: sometimes more accurate than Option A, never less accurate than Option A.

    We call this a no-brainer.

    The method in question, if adopted in this law, will sometimes maker it harder for some women to choose to get an abortion, based on using the less accurate method of estimation. The more accurate method of estimation removes that problem.

    I think you are being intentionally obtuse here.

  • Amy

    Cranky, I think you and I are not talking about the same thing. I get the fact that you don’t like what the bill represents. I can see that we may never be on the same side of the coin on whether to make it easier for a woman to end a life. All of that, though, is besides the point I was originally making.

    Because of the division that this issue can cause, I would rarely, if ever, get in an online discussion about the intent of this bill. Too many emotions involved on both sides. I only made my first comment because this blog post is being unfair in criticizing AZ both in the title of the Post and the very last sentence, which does say that AZ is trying to redefine the point of conception. That’s absurd. No one is saying you are 2 weeks pregnant before you are pregnant. No one is trying to redefine conception. But those are the accusations that are being flung in the post.

    If you read my original comment, it was only to say that AZ is using the same terminology and definition of gestational age as is well accepted in the medical profession.

    Oh, and any “obtuseness” on my part is never intentional. 😉
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend. :-)

  • cranky critter

    I guess what I was never able to make sufficiently clear, Amy, is that this bill offends me as a mathematician, not a pro-choice advocate. I favor accuracy.

    Best, CC