Republican lawmakers in Arizona put forth Senate Bill 1394 that seeks to require more information about why a woman is getting an abortion. There are 11 proposed check boxes for women to look over and decide what best suits their decision to end their pregnancy. Reasons include: rape, extramarital affair (herself or her husband), abuse, child not wanted, cannot afford a baby, as well as questions pertaining to emotional and physical health.
I can’t help but think about how this would be very different if it were men who could get pregnant. I’m also going to equate it to the instance of a man asking for something like Viagra from his doctor. Just imagine that list of questions: Do you need an erectile dysfunction drug because you're self conscious about your hairline or concerned about your beer belly? Does that make you feel unsexy and therefore impedes your erection? Have you tried switching things up a little in the bedroom with your partner? What were you wearing when you couldn’t get it up?
Imagine, too, if there were more questions that required answering from potential gun owners or people buying ammunition. Or questions about gun safety and making sure they are properly stored and locked up. That would never happen, because those questions would be too intrusive. And they don't involve vaginas.
This is of course on the table in the country’s most anti-abortion state. SB 1394 includes fear-mongering, emotional agony, and more paperwork for doctors, which could in turn make doctors not want to offer the service. It all seems like first steps in an attempt to quietly further the pro-life agenda.
This bill requires doctors to give more information about complications or specific medical issues that may result after the procedure. These instances are extremely rare. According to Arizona's 2016 health department stats, 33 women experienced a complication out of 13,170 who received abortions in the state. This isn't cause for extreme alarm. Plus, if passed, doctors must also detail the fetus’ characteristics at the time of the requested abortion.
While some may feel these are things women seeking abortions should consider and answer, if we take a look closer, it’s really about shaming, making the procedure more emotionally painful, and harder to get. These things are already considered by women seeking abortions. Women do not need shame from a doctor and tabs kept by the government in this highly personal and completely legal decision.
The President of the Center for Arizona Policy (a known anti-abortion group), Cathi Herrod, said that this bill seeks to “help improve women’s health” for “better service.” Exactly how would it help a woman if she had to justify getting an abortion -- which again, she is legally allowed to do -- because she cannot afford another baby or that her husband strayed from their marriage and she doesn’t want to bring his baby into this world? All the data that supposedly is to “help improve women’s health” is going to be collected and it is this detail that feels most sinister. Why does the government need to know any of this information? The government doesn’t own women’s uteruses.
This data collection could also serve to take away reproductive rights down the road. No one is skipping into an abortion clinic with a song in their heart, happy to go through this procedure. It can be a grueling decision, a heartbreaking one, and one that takes a lot of thought and courage.
The bill is sponsored by Senator Nancy Barto, a republican from Phoenix, and was scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, but was postponed. In the meantime, we'll have wait to see if this moves forward with the hope this doesn’t set a precedent for more states to follow. This isn’t a solution; this isn’t helping women. It seems like one step forward into a dystopian society where women have no rights.
The real way to help improve women’s health (if that's what they are really trying to do) is to better educate our children on sex and reproduction. Women can be offered better service through their health provider by having better health care with the full range of services. And the best solution to reduce the numbers of abortions being performed (a number that is already on the decline and lowering every year) is to have better access to birth control. It’s really that simple and doesn’t require shaming women, taking away our rights, or collecting data that should be personal. It seems clear that isn't the real goal of these lawmakers. We need to be vigilant.