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Abortion bill puts women’s health at risk

Proposal would let pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions

The Arizona House has gone too far. Rep. Nancy Barto and her cohorts are trying to deny women access to vital health care services and information.

During debate on HB 2564, out-of-touch lawmakers made many inaccurate statements.

As Arizona physicians and Ph.Ds. in health fields, we feel it is important to correct these.

Said Rep. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, “Women will not be denied access to contraception; will not be denied access to health care.”

On the contrary, this bill would deny women access to emergency contraception,and it would drastically reduce access to care in rural and underserved areas.

Women would be forced to delay abortion care, increasing their health risks.

Antenori said, “There is a duty to protect either our wives or our daughters from making decisions that may come back to haunt them further down the road in their lives.”

But it is not the role of politicians to interfere with a woman’s relationship with her family and doctor. Even people who are uncomfortable with abortion agree this is not the government’s place.

“This bill protects women,” said Barto, R-Scottsdale.

Barriers to care and increased costs do not protect women. Rather, as Arizona families lose jobs, education and homes, they also would lose health care. This is the time to help women and families, not bar their access to care.

“It protects the civil rights of health providers,” Barto says. “It strengthens the doctor/patient relationship.”

The bill would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription that a doctor deems necessary. And it would force medical professionals to deliver a government-mandated lecture filled with misleading information, compromising the trust between patients and doctors.

“Informed consent is not happening in Arizona regarding abortion,” Barto alleged.

Wrong. Informed consent is required by medical protocol and is standard practice in Arizona. Each patient is given complete information regarding all of her options as well as one-on-one education.

Barto said, “A waiting period does not place an undue burden on women.”

A 24-hour waiting period will create a financial burden on women who must travel long distances to access abortion care.

Three counties would lose availability entirely, leaving only women in Phoenix and Tucson with reasonable access.

This will result in lost wages and increased child care expenses. No other medical procedure requires a government lecture followed by a 24-hour waiting period.

This will force women to delay abortion care, increasing their health risks, particularly women from rural and underserved areas.

Barto notes, “Rights of conscience laws have been in place for 30 years protecting medical professionals.”

So why is it necessary to add this language to this bill? The truth is, this bill will make it more difficult for women to find health care professionals who will provide complete and accurate medical information.

Access to abortion care and emergency contraception will be compromised by allowing pharmacists and medical providers to withhold information and medication.

If a doctor or pharmacist is not comfortable giving all medically accurate information, that person shouldn’t be practicing medicine.

Barto says, “I think we can all agree that preventing . . . unwanted and unintended pregnancy is something we all want to accomplish, but that is for another discussion and . . . shouldn’t have a bearing on what we are trying to accomplish here.”

But prevention is the issue. We consistently rank in the bottom two of all western states in the number of abortions performed, yet Arizona has the second-highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, and 95 percent of those pregnancies are unplanned.

Arizonans desperately need medically accurate information.

Barto says, “Nurses are allowed to perform abortions in our state even though they are not qualified to handle the complications of such a procedure.”

The Arizona Board of Nursing has determined that providing early abortion care is within the scope of a highly and specially trained nurse practitioner.

The board recognizes that nurse practitioners and other advanced practice clinicians are competent and qualified.

“Parent’s rights are routinely violated regarding their minor daughters obtaining an abortion without their consent,” Barto said.

Arizona already requires written parental consent for minors to access abortion care.

Now this bill would require third parties to become involved, forcing parents to have their consent form notarized by someone who is not held to any ethical standards regarding patient privacy.

Said Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Scottsdale, “This is a bill which makes the process better.”

This bill creates barriers, increases cost and denies access to services and providers. It makes nothing better.

Kavanagh insists, “This is not interfering in the relationship of the doctor and patient.”

This bill sends the message that politicians know what will best protect the health of a pregnant woman, suggesting physicians need the Legislature to tell them what is medically appropriate.

It forces medical professionals to deliver a government-mandated lecture filled with misleading information.

Providers would be required to read a list that is intended to coerce and shame a woman into changing her decision to access abortion care.

As Arizona medical professionals, we know what women will be forced to face should this bill be passed. Arizona residents deserve to know the truth.



This guest opinion was signed by Arizona medical Drs. Ilana Addis, Hilda Allred, Sandra Anderson, Tracy Baser-Decker, Chris Biggs, Nancy Bourke, Claire Bowey, Jonathan Cartsonis, Monica Casper, Barbara Cohen Ehrlich, Rebecca Fink, Larry P. Gassner, Gabrielle Goodrick, Paul Gordon, Rick Grapp, A. Land Harris, Marilyn Heins, Matt Heinz , Margaret Holleman, Donna G. Horne, Candace Lew, Pam Lotke, John W. Martin, D. H. Orenstein, Nancy Paxton, Elizabeth Pearcy and Arthur Piccinati. Also, Drs. Henry Reuss, Pat Roy, Brian M. Schneider, Ivy Schwartz, Janet Shalwitz, Eve Shapiro, William E. Smith, John Smith, Michael B. Stegman, Robert Stern, Harvey A. Turner, Richard Wachter, Barbara Warren, Michelle K. Williams. Also, signed by registered nurse Jane Price, clinical psychologist Brian Ramirez, and Ph.D.s Bronwyn Heathe Bleakley, Norman Fuchs, Joseph R. Heller, Nancy Hellner, Norma Kafer, Veronica Lyons, Pauline Peverly, David Sadker, Jennifer Vigil, Kenneth Weene and Lin Wright.

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