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Democratic leaders slam conservative group behind SB 1062, abortion bill

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PHOENIX – The conservative advocacy group behind legislation such as SB 1062 and attempts to restrict abortions has too much power over the Legislature, Democratic leaders said Tuesday.

Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, the House minority leader, said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, has more power than elected officials.

“She’s not accountable to any voter in this state, yet she seems to wield more power than any person down here,” Campbell said at a news conference outside the Capitol.

Sen. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, said the bills the center advocates for harm Arizona’s reputation. While Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, she and others pointed to another bill, HB 2284, that would allow the Arizona Department of Health Services to inspect abortion clinics if officials think they aren’t meeting licensing requirements.

“Last week we saw our state in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons and lasting damage has been done,” she said. “2284 is yet another example of the extreme agenda of the Center for Arizona Policy.”

HB 2284, authored by Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, passed the House on a 34-22 vote Tuesday.

Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley, said the Legislature is focusing on the wrong bills.

“Unfortunately, every year down here we have had bill after bill that gets in between a physician and a woman and her right to make her own decisions with her body,” he said. “What we should be focusing on here at the Capitol is growing our education system that’s been dramatically cut, fixing CPS, which is broken, and driving those limited tax dollars that we have into taking care of our kids.”

Campbell said it’s time for Arizona voters to take power away from Cathi Herrod and the Center for Arizona Policy.

“I think it’s time for us to rally as Arizonans,” he said. “I think we all need to come together. I don’t care what your faith is, I don’t care gender, sexual orientation, I don’t care if you’re Democrat or Republican, let’s fight for common sense this year, let’s take back the Legislature and let’s put Cathi Herrod out of business this year.”

A spokesman for the Center for Arizona Policy said he would respond to a request for comment after the vote on HB 2284 but had yet to do so as of late Tuesday afternoon.

In an emailed statement, Lesko said her goal is protecting women’s health.

“Women that go to abortion clinics deserve the same level of health standards that are required in every other health institution in the entire state,” she said. “Why should abortion clinics be the only health facility in the entire state that get advance notice when health inspections take place. What do they have to hide?”