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Bill cuts birth control, abortion options

Guest Writers
Guest Opinion

Arizona’s budget crisis is devastating families every day. We are working hard on solutions to protect every Arizonan’s well-being. So it is hard to fathom why House Republicans would fast-track legislation to create an even bigger burden for Arizona women.

A bill by Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, to restrict women’s access to birth control and abortion care was quickly pushed through the House.

Now, to justify her proposals in HB 2564, Barto has misrepresented the facts (April 8 guest opinion, “Bill would guarantee that women seeking abortion get all the facts”).

Barto claims the bill provides informed consent to women considering abortion. She fails to mention this is already a standard practice in Arizona.

Women are fully informed about the decision when dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. Planned Parenthood Arizona and other health care providers give women professional, one-on-one counseling with medically accurate information so they can make an informed decision.

HB 2564, however, will also require medical professionals to provide information intended to coerce and shame a woman into changing her decision.

HB 2564 also imposes a mandatory waiting period before a woman can receive abortion care. This restricts women’s access and adds costs, particularly for women in rural Arizona.

There is no government-mandated waiting period for any other outpatient medical procedure, and there shouldn’t be a politically motivated waiting period imposed on women seeking abortion.

Barto claims her bill gives parents an opportunity to provide consent before their daughter can have an abortion. Arizona law already requires written parental consent for minors to access care.

HB 2564 would actually require third-party involvement in the private decisions that young women make with their parents by forcing a parent and the daughter to have their consent form notarized by someone who is not held to any ethical standards regarding patient privacy.

Another of Barto’s false claims is that HB 2564 will not prevent women from accessing emergency contraception.

This bill would exempt pharmacists from fulfilling their professional duty to provide complete, accurate information about birth control, such as emergency contraception or Plan B, by allowing pharmacists to withhold information and medication from women.

This exemption would override the policies put in place by private businesses that require their pharmacists to fulfill their duties. This is more government interference, this time into the ability of private businesses to create and enforce standards for employment.

Barto also claims HB 2564 reduces risks associated with abortion care by preventing highly trained nurse practitioners from providing early abortion care.

That would overturn an Arizona Board of Nursing decision that early abortion care is within the scope of practice of a specially trained nurse practitioner.

The nursing board’s ruling recognized the widely accepted opinion among medical professionals that nurse practitioners and other advanced practice clinicians are competent and qualified to perform abortions and have been doing so with impressive safety records for more than three decades.

By imposing this politically motivated restriction on medical professionals, HB 2564 would greatly reduce the availability of abortion services throughout the state, forcing women to travel greater distances, and significantly increasing the costs.

Despite Barto’s misleading statements, she is correct about one thing: This bill does not address prevention, which is, after all, the real problem.

Reducing the number of unintended pregnancies is the objective of organizations such as Planned Parenthood Arizona, where more than 90 percent of services are focused on preventive health care services and education.

Arizona has one of the nation’s highest rates of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

We in the Legislature cannot continue to close our eyes to this problem. We must face it head on and focus our efforts on programs that prevent the need for abortion.

When a woman faces an unintended pregnancy, she should have the opportunity to make the best decision for herself and her family, whether raising a child, adoption or abortion.

We should make sure that all options are available to every woman. Barto’s HB 2564 would guarantee that fewer options would be available.

Paula Aboud and Linda Lopez are Democratic state senators from Tucson. Aboud represents District 28; Lopez, District 29.

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