Arizona All But Illegalizes Abortion

How much do Arizona legislators hate women? From David Dayen, and indirectly from The Daily Beast, we get the answer… this much:

Yesterday we had a big national discussion about the choices women make in their lives. Ann Romney at one point said right-out, “We need to respect the choices that women make.”

At the end of yesterday, Arizona’s female Governor, Jan Brewer, signed a bill banning abortions after 18 weeks and creating a new definition of “pregnant.”

Despite its name, critics derided the Women’s Health and Safety Act that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law today as cruel, dangerous, and hostile to women—likely to deter many Arizona women from seeking an abortion, and to distress those who nonetheless go through with one.

Life starts earliest in Arizona, which now defines gestational age as beginning on the first day of a woman’s last period, rather than at fertilization. In practice, that means the state has banned abortions after about 18 weeks (20 weeks from the last menstruation) except in the case of medical emergencies. While that provision has been much discussed, abortions after that point account for only about 1 percent of the procedures currently performed.

The stipulation likely to be most widely felt is what experts are calling an effective shutdown of medication abortions. These nonsurgical abortions are usually performed within the first nine weeks of pregnancy, and account for between 17 and 20 percent of all abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-rights advocacy group. While women often take the pills at clinics and in their homes, the bill now mandates that a medical provider must have hospital privileges within 30 miles of where the procedure takes place. Many times clinics or homes are not within 30 miles of hospitals, and the distance prevents providers from other cities or even states from caring for women, says Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute. Another factor that could contribute to what Nash called a “shutdown” of medication abortions is that the law requires abortion pills to be administered using outdated protocols, confusing providers and obscuring proper use of the drugs.

There will be no sense of irony around this, that the national discussion around women’s choices came from the exact same party that promotes restricting women’s medical choices. Everyone will just keep having the stupid season discussion they were having.

Incidentally, the anti-abortion measures signed into law by Brewer yesterday include a mandatory ultrasound, a 24-hour waiting period, forced education in public schools around adoption and birth, forced advertising in abortion clinics about the dangers of “coercion,” parental notification and mandatory counseling. It’s the smorgasbord of abortion bills.

“[T]he stupid season” … more and more, that’s the right name for Republican election year politics in America. “[S]tupid” is also the right word for any federal judge who finds this law constitutional. It’s as if Gov. Brewer and the Arizona Legislature had never read Roe.

And women: if you vote for Republicans in this election, despite their consistent and premeditated efforts to scrap women’s rights, to turn women into second-class citizens… you are sssss… um, I mean… you are signing away the rights your mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers won for you in the face of extreme adversity. Just don’t do it… for your daughters’ sake.

AFTERTHOUGHT: I meant to include the following observation by David Dayen (same link as above):

It’s the new definition of gestational age, where a woman can now be considered pregnant by the state of Arizona before ever having sex, that threw me. This completely upends the justification of a “fetal pain” bill, because it draws the line before the arbitrary point accepted by anti-choicers of when the fetus can feel pain. …

If you need any more evidence that this is not about protecting fetuses but rather about punishing women for being women, there it is. The new definition of the beginning of pregnancy can literally label you as “pregnant” before you even had sex. (Hey, Mary Mother of God, there’s a state legislature treading on your territory…)

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  • MandT  On Friday April 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    “Jan Brewer signed into law today as cruel, dangerous, and hostile to women—” Interesting correlation: Jan Brewer’s son is a criminal felon charged with dangerous and violent crimes against women.

    • Steve  On Friday April 13, 2012 at 10:30 pm

      I did not know that, MandT. The cobbler’s children go unshod…

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