In case the rest of the world has any doubt that Arizona is full of gun-slinging, ignorant assholes, one look at the state legislature’s agenda should clear up any confusion. Several anti-choice bills have been introduced at the legislature in the past few weeks, and they make the already draconion abortion restrictions in our state look like a cake walk compared to what is potentially coming down the pike. Let me summarize the worst offenders in the bunch.
HB2416 would introduce several new restrictions on abortion access, including:
- Expands the definition of abortion clinic from those that perform surgical abortion to also include those that dispense medications which induce abortion without surgery.
- Requires Arizona courts to appoint guardians ad litem for minors who are asking courts to waive the state parental consent requirement.
- The bill expands required components of informed consent to include mandatory ultrasound and “auscultation” (using a stethoscope to listen to fetal organs, including the heart).
- Both components must be provided at least one hour before medication is administered or the surgical procedure is provided.
- Must offer the patient to view the ultrasound and to hear the heartbeat, etc.
- Must offer to provide a detailed explanation of what the ultrasound depicts.
- Must offer the patient a print version of the ultrasound.
- Patient must certify in writing that the ultrasound and auscultation were offered, and whether she accepted or declined the offer.
- Bans use of “telemedicine.”
There are so many problems with this bill it’s hard to know where to start the tirade. For starters, how many pills are considered a form of surgery? Can you imagine if a doctor had to have admitting rights at a hospital if they wanted to prescribe Viagra? The men of this state would be rioting in the streets! What if they needed to have admitting rights to prescribe allergy medicine, or insulin? I think you get my drift. Taking a pill is not the same as having surgery. It’s a total no brainer.
Let’s not give the Arizona legislature any points for originality. The wording of this bill is nothing new. Several other states have already passed law that require women to view an ultrasound before they may receive an abortion.
It’s not so much the fact that an ultrasound is being performed that troubles me, since that is commonly done during the course of an abortion. What bothers me about HB2416 is that a woman has to be read yet another script (women already have to listen to a script 24 hours before they obtain an abortion, due to HB2564, which was passed in 2009), and that she has to sign a document stating that she has heard the description of the fetus and was offered the opportunity to view the ultrasound. The fact that this is being called “informed consent” assumes that women are too stupid to know any better, that they make the decision to have an abortion based on a hunch they’re feeling at the moment, and that they will suddenly change their minds about the abortion after they are already in the clinic. How stupid do these lawmakers think women really are?
As to the telemedicine portion of the bill, this method of administering the abortion pill is only being used in Iowa. Arizona’s lawmakers are trying to take a preemptive strike at the use of telemedicine being used in Arizona, since they obviously know that the latest restrictions on abortion will make abortion even less accessible. This is particularly a problem for women in rural communities. I think this portion of the bill really speaks to the true motives behind the bill’s sponsors: make abortion completely unavailable, even if it remains “legal” in the state of Arizona.
HB2443 says that a person who knowingly performs an abortion with the knowledge that the abortion is sought based on the sex or race of the child, or the race of the parent of the child, is guilty of a class three felony.
HB2443 is the height of misogyny. This bill is just one more effort to shame women, and it legally entrenches the stigma surrounding abortion. The last thing that a woman needs when she is going in for an abortion is an inquisition about why she’s seeking an abortion. Women shouldn’t have to explain themselves. They should be able to seek medical care with the expectation of privacy.
Moreover, where’s the evidence that we have a problem with race or sex selective abortions in the state of Arizona? Representative Steve Montenego, the bill’s sponsor, claims that abortion rates are higher in communities of color, and that this is a sign that abortion is being used as a way of eliminating communities of color. However, Montenegro’s analysis fails to examine the economic reasons why abortion is prevalent in communities of color.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, abortion rates have risen as a result of the economic downturn. Class is highly racialized in the United States, and communities of color tend to be lower income as a result of the long history of economic discrimination that people of color have experienced. So perhaps Montenegro would seem more sincere if he were making his arguments on the basis of class, rather than sex or race.
HB2416 and HB2443 were heard in the House Health and Human Services Committee earlier today. I will provide coverage of the hearing testimony tomorrow. In the mean time, if you’re an Arizona resident, please take a few minutes to contact your state representatives and let them know that you oppose these bills.
Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.