Opinion: Hands off our abortion rights

Arizona's amendments to its abortion law are only making the decision to get an abortion more difficult

2019 was meant to be the year of the woman — but in Arizona, at least, it started off with a step backwards for their rights. 

Looking back at America's history of female contraceptives, it was not until 1972 that female contraception became available to all women regardless of marital status. Women could then finally take their reproductive rights into their own hands, or at least to some extent. 

However, reproductive rights don't just stop on the topic of birth control.

For women who are raped, women who cannot healthily carry a child and women whose birth control has failed, abortion may be the only option. 

On Jan. 1, new additions to Senate Bill 1394 went into action, and now health care practitioners are required to ask a woman why she is receiving the abortion along with an onslaught of other invasive questions that will then be reported to the Arizona Department of Health Services. 

The law also pushes victims of rape, domestic violence and trafficking toward law enforcement if they reported the abortion out of need or intimidation. 

Each state has its own specific abortion laws. However, rather than continuing to amend these laws that move the fight for reproduction rights in the wrong direction, like Arizona, states should continue to make laws to protect its women from unsafe abortions or choose to not amend these laws at all. 

According to Refinery29, Arizona only has nine legal abortion clinics, which may seem adequate, but is troubling when considering that Arizona is home to over 3.2 million women, not including all the college women from out of state. 

Arizona also has a 24-hour waiting period, 24 week cut-off, parental consent and remote medical restrictions, as reported by Refinery29. With all these obstacles up in hopes of deterring women away from an abortion, it seems like there is nothing more to add. 

However, this new law adds pressure on women, especially those who are younger. Additionally, it can cause those seeking abortions to wait on the decision even longer due to nerves or embarrassment, deterring them from this choice until it's too late. 

The process behind having an abortion should not be centered around why she is choosing to not have a baby, but rather what medical professionals can do to make this a safe and nonjudgemental experience. 

According to azcentral, “The bill was opposed by the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.” This shows that professionals in the field of domestic violence do not see this as helping these women in need. 

Paul Bender, a professor of law and dean emeritus at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, said that while the law is upheld constitutionality by not directly infringing on women’s rights, the questions make the process more difficult.  

“I think these questions are a bad idea because they are passed for the intention of making it more difficult to get abortions, and I don’t think they do any good,” Bender said. “I think they have the effect of just burdening women more when they want to have an abortion. When you put them through this questionnaire, I think a lot of people just don't want to go through that.”

Regardless of one's reasoning, the choice to have an abortion is a difficult one. 

While a woman can refuse to answer these questions, having to endure this type of interrogation can increase doubt or subject a woman to overthink the questions she has probably gone over many times. 

The law also does not state specifically if the medical provider has to tell these women if the questions are optional, so a woman with lack of knowledge of SB 1394 might feel compelled to answer these questions. 

Women shouldn't have to be faced with these invasive questions while in an already vulnerable position, especially by the doctor or by the state. 

Reach the columnist at psaso@asu.edu and follow @paytonsaso on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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