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Abortion: Arizona Women Could Face Questions About Rape, Abuse

by Birthright: A War Story | Updated on 5.2.18

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Arizona women could face questions about rape, abuse, domestic violence, the bill would require the abortion clinic to notify her about how to contact law enforcement. SB 1394 is now likely one step — a final vote in the Senate — from Gov. Doug Ducey's desk.

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Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, pushed the floor amendment, saying the additional questions are intended to help victims of assault or trafficking who are coerced into having an abortion.

“This will help us identify those women who are being trafficked," Farnsworth said. “This may be the only opportunity they have to answer the question of whether they are being coerced." Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, on SB 1394

But the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence opposes the bill.

Jason Vail Cruz, the coalition's sexual violence policy coordinator, said the group worries forcing victims to disclose an assault when they haven't chosen to do so could be retraumatizing.

Vail Cruz said if the state is really concerned about trafficking victims, it could fund rape crisis centers. He said doctors who perform abortions might not be trained to deal with a patient's emotional needs.

"It really adds another layer of trauma to a situation that’s already fraught with a lot of stigma and nerves," he said. “This is just an overreach."

Farnsworth and other supporters also have said the data it would require doctors to gather and report to the state could help improve women's health services.

The bill passed 35-22, along party lines with Republicans in support.

Democrats and othercritics of SB 1394 said the real purpose of the measure — which an anti-abortion advocacy group helped write — is to scare and shame women who seek the procedure.

'None of the government's business'

"It’s none of the government’s business why a women is getting an abortion," said. Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe. "This bill would intimidate patients, intimidate women who are seeking abortion services." Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe, on SB 1394

The bill also is opposed by a host of medical organizations, including the Arizona chapters of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Academy of Pediatrics.

Lawmakers who voted against the bill said if Republicans want to stop unplanned pregnancies, they should increase access to birth control and sex education.

Jodi Liggett, vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood Arizona, said the bill isn't about helping women. She called Republicans' move to remove and then reintroduce the detailed 'why' question for patients a "bait and switch."

"Doctors do not what to interrogate their patients," Liggett said. "Let's get in front of this issue. Birth control is what prevents unplanned pregnancies. Period. Full stop."

Current state law vs. proposed changes

Under state law, doctors already must ask if an abortion is elective or due to a maternal or fetal medical concern. They report that information to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

SB 1394 would expand that by requiring doctors to ask women for a more specific reason why they want to end a pregnancy. Doctors must select at least one reason from a list of 10 potential answers, including that the "abortion is elective" or the "woman declined to answer."

Originally, SB 1394 listed "economic reasons" and "extramarital affairs" as other potential reasons for a doctor to report, but those were removed by an earlier amendment Farnsworth brought.

Birthright: A War Story

Written by Birthright: A War Story

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