Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Bill would guarantee that women seeking abortion get all the facts

Several editorials about HB 2564, the Abortion Consent Act, unfortunately fail to recognize the problems with our abortion statutes and misrepresent the solutions the bill proposes.

As the prime sponsor of the legislation, I appreciate the chance to address both issues.

Women in Arizona lack informed consent when seeking an abortion.

It is standard practice for a patient to receive complete and accurate information before agreeing to virtually any other invasive medical procedure, including the information required in this bill: alternatives, risks and time to consider the options before undergoing the surgery.

All except for abortion.

Because of the nature of abortion, women are more vulnerable to being taken advantage of, routinely denied one-on-one counseling and often rushed into making the decision without the advantage of full and accurate information.

Waiting periods protect women from being pressured by individuals who may not have women’s best interests in mind.

Some claim a 24-hour reflection period presents an undue burden for women. Why should abortion be singled out as an undue burden when it is standard practice for every other surgery – even for women residing in rural areas?

Furthermore, the courts have held that 24 hours is not an undue burden. The informed consent features in HB 2564 will enhance the standard of care a woman seeking an abortion receives – a goal everyone should be able to agree is laudable.

These requirements will not in any way deny a woman the right to an abortion. So why do critics of HB 2564 believe women should not be fully informed before making such a monumental decision, which can have serious physical and emotional consequences?

The second problem HB 2564 solves is parental consent.

Editorial writers are correct in stating current Arizona statute requires a minor seeking an abortion to obtain a parent’s consent. But loopholes render the laws virtually unenforceable.

This bill simply requires a parent’s notarized signature – ensuring parents have a meaningful opportunity to give consent before an abortion is performed on their daughter, while still allowing an option for minors who are in abusive parental situations.

Parental consent laws are widely accepted and promote the parent-child relationship.

Third, the bill updates important civil rights protections for medical professionals.

Rights of conscience have always been an integral part of abortion statutes, allowing medical professionals to opt out of providing abortions.

But medical advances require we update these protections to include abortion medication, since these present a moral dilemma to some who do not wish to participate in causing the abortion of a child.

This protection will not prevent a woman from obtaining a morning after pill, as Plan B is readily available over the Internet, through the mail and even over the counter!

Respecting the right not to sell specific drugs causing the abortion of a child doesn’t impose an ideology on anyone, but forcing a pharmacist to sell them does.

Finally, the bill addresses nonphysicians performing surgical abortions.

The abortion procedure may not be new, but it still presents substantial risks to the female body, and serious complications occasionally arise. The Abortion Consent Act makes certain that only a licensed physician may perform the procedure, so women undergoing an abortion are not put at risk in Arizona.

HB 2564 does not address prevention. Preventing unwanted pregnancy is certainly an issue, but denying the existence of real problems with our current abortion statutes and not taking action to correct them is irresponsible.

The fact this bill passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support (36-19) should be some indication of its common-sense nature.

This bill has a woman’s best interest in mind, by equipping her with the information to make a better-informed decision. If a woman is serious about having an abortion, she can have one. But it is neither radical nor draconian to give women accurate medical information about the choices they make.

Nancy Barto is a Republican state representative for District 7 in Phoenix.

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