In April of this year, three anti-choice bills were passed. One bill, HB2036, bans abortion after 18 weeks of pregnancy except in a “medical emergency”. This law was passed by claiming that conception begins at “the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman,” which would move the beginning of a pregnancy up two weeks prior to conception. Using this backwards logic, Arizona claims to have a 20-week cutoff but has actually become the state with the earliest cutoff for late-term abortions in the country.
Someone who wants an abortion is also required to get a transvaginal ultrasound, an expensive form of state-sanctioned rape which requires a healthcare provider to insert an object into the patient’s vagina in order to show them a sonogram of the developing fetus. The law also requires doctors to remind patients that alternatives to abortion are located in Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS)’s website. The bill reiterates parental consent laws and states that civil action may be brought against anyone who violates them.
The second law, SB1359, states that if a patient is pregnant, and a healthcare provider finds that the fetus might have health issues or disabilities, the healthcare provider may choose not to tell the patient. The act of withholding of this information is now protected under law. This is known as the “wrongful birth, wrongful life” lawsuit legislation. This bill is sponsored by a senator with close ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council. The senator, Nancy Barto, was named ALEC’s legislator of the year.
The final law, SB1009, requires that schools teach students that adoption and birth are the most acceptable outcomes for an unwanted pregnancy.
These anti-choice laws make AANA’s work both more difficult and ever-more necessary. The addition of expensive and traumatic procedures increases the financial and emotional cost of an abortion. The redefinition of the gestational period shortens the time people have to come up with the money for an abortion, to coordinate transportation and lodging, and to prepare emotionally if need be. The fact that healthcare providers can withhold vital information from patients adds an additional obstacle to the struggle for control over our bodies. And the misinformation given to young students means that some folks will need more support than ever as we struggle to overcome obstacles to this control, in the form of psychological coercion, lack of information, and otherwise.
For more information about these bills, check out the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona website. In addition to summaries of the bills, you can find out how your state representatives voted on these issues.