Remember when you were in middle or high school and had a friend your parents hated, the “bad influence” who set a “bad example”? Right, me too. Well, we aren’t adolescents anymore, but that doesn’t mean bad influences don’t still exist. Case in point: the state of Arizona.
As I wrote last month, Arizona is engaged in a full-blown assault on women, and the hits just keep coming. Last week, lawmakers passed a 20 week abortion ban, citing fetal pain as a main argument (even though the medical community’s general consensus is that an unborn fetus can’t feel pain at 20 weeks’ gestation…but who needs the medical community’s expertise when we have politicians, amirite?!). According to Reuters, the ban also requires women to undergo an ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, up from the current 1-hour requirement, and requires doctors and the state’s health department to provide additional information about abortion’s risks. It also allows doctors to prescribe abortion pills only through the seventh week of pregnancy instead of through the ninth.
Adding insult to injury is the legislation’s new disclosure mandates, which include requiring Arizona to have a web site featuring images of fetuses throughout various stages of development for women to view. This kills me for a couple of reasons. First, do these people really think that women deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy are going to visit their state-sponsored website (versus their partner, doctor, friends or an objective medical website) for input? Second, women are not idiots; we understand what it means to be pregnant and to terminate a pregnancy. We don’t need pictures to explain it. What’s next, fetus flash-cards handed out at OB-GYN offices, akin to dental floss and toothbrushes we get at our annual dental cleanings?
Governor Jan Brewer quickly signed the bill into law, making Arizona the seventh state to enact such legislation. However, Arizona’s version is actually much more extreme than its cohorts’, as it calculates gestational age starting with the first day of the last menstrual period rather than the date of conception. Essentially, then, this bans abortions at 18 weeks.
If you aren’t like me, who believes abortion is an entirely personal decision and should be available on demand, you may be wondering why banning abortion at 20 weeks (or, 18 weeks, really) is such a big deal, since the standard cut-off is typically 24 weeks anyways. Aside from superseding the doctor/patient relationship, this ban blatantly ignores – or discounts – the fact that many women do not even discover their fetus has severe or life-threatening abnormalities until roughly 20 weeks. In other words, these women, faced with heart-breaking news of an abnormality and no time to legally have an abortion, would then have to carry the fetus to term, knowing it might die within hours of childbirth. That is absolutely inhumane and in no way “protects” women, as the law’s supporters pretend to want to do.
I wonder what other states will be influenced by Arizona’s bad example. Any guesses?