Arizona governor completes whirlwind day of bill signing

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Doug Ducey, Arizona’s Republican governor, left few hot-button issues untouched Wednesday.

With a series of pen strokes and one proclamation, Ducey further tightened election law, forbid transgender participation in sports, prohibited doctors from performing gender-reassignment surgery on children, outlawed abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, and ended the state’s COVID-19 declaration of emergency.

In his signing of Senate Bills 1138 and 1165, Ducey limited doctors’ ability to perform gender reassignment surgery and required the state’s public-school sports teams to be organized according to biological sex.

“This legislation is common-sense and narrowly-targeted to address these two specific issues ⁠— while ensuring that transgender individuals continue to receive the same dignity, respect and kindness as every individual in our society,” Ducey said.

In the same release, the governor explained his support of the state’s new abortion law, which threatens doctors with the loss of licensing and a Class 6 felony if they are convicted of performing an abortion past 15 weeks of gestation, barring medical emergency. He further noted that women would not be prosecuted for receiving an abortion, even if after 15 weeks.

“In Arizona, we know there is immeasurable value in every life – including preborn life,” Ducey said. “I believe it is each state’s responsibility to protect them.”

Ducey ended Arizona’s COVID state of emergency by gubernatorial proclamation.

“This virus isn’t completely gone, but because of the vaccine and other life-saving measures, today we are better positioned to manage and mitigate it,” Ducey said. “COVID-19 challenged us in ways we never could’ve imagined. No corner of our state – no corner of our country or the world – was spared. But we met that challenge head on by prioritizing lives, livelihoods and individual liberties. The time is right to move forward.”

Dr. Richard Carmona, who served as Surgeon General under President George W. Bush, endorsed Ducey’s decision.

“The current COVID-19 outbreak period in Arizona has ended,” Carmona said. “COVID-19 is by no means completely through with us, however, and it’s reasonable to expect we will see increases in cases at times as the virus mutates to survive. We now have the experience and tools in place to address what may be to come while public health continues doing what we do best: infectious disease surveillance, prevention, and control.”

The governor’s support of election reform was curious, if not ironic, given Ducey’s history.

Ducey, who cannot seek reelection because of term limits, chose not to run for U.S. Senate after months of being criticized by former President Donald Trump for having opposed efforts to overturn the 2020 election which led to him being censured by the Republican Party of Arizona.

In 2020, Ducey had vouched for the integrity of Arizona’s electoral process; however, on Wednesday he energetically supported a bill that will require people who are only eligible to vote in federal elections in Arizona to provide proof of U.S. citizenship.

“Election integrity means counting every lawful vote and prohibiting any attempt to illegally cast a vote,” Ducey said. He later added the new law “is a balanced approach that honors Arizona’s history of making voting accessible without sacrificing security in our elections.”