Abortion continues to be a contentious topic across the nation as several states enact stricter laws in an effort to prevent the procedure. Despite the fear that has taken hold of many pro-choice adovcates across Arizona, they remain optimistic that the state will not successfully enact an abortion ban.
In May, the governor of Alabama signed a controversial bill that would ban almost all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest. The bill challenges the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which established the right to abortion access under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Despite the decades-old decision, many states have followed Alabama’s lead, including Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri and Louisiana.
While attention is being drawn to these south central states, Planned Parenthood Arizona spokeswoman Tayler Tucker says that the Arizona Legislature has been chipping away at reproductive rights for years.
“A lot of the sort of bans and things that you’re seeing in other states have already been tried and sometimes succeeded (in Arizona),” Tucker said. “So really it’s some of these southern states learning from Arizona anti-choice people about how to go about making it very very difficult for people to access their constitutional right to care.”
Requiring doctors to ask why a women is getting an abortion and a 24-hour waiting period for those seeking the procedure are both standing laws in Arizona, and the state has a history of banning abortion pre-Roe v. Wade.
Additionally, in 2012, Arizona enacted a law prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, claiming that fetal pain would be possible at that time. The law was ruled unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Most recently, Arizona considered a bill in May that would put aside $7.5 million over the next three years to fund crisis pregnancy centers for abortion prevention.
The bill, sponsored by the anti-abortion group Center for Arizona Policy, was ultimately defeated, leaving pro-life advocates at the Center describing the loss as “tragic."
“At a time when millions of dollars flow to the abortion industry from the federal government, it truly is a travesty that our state government cannot secure the votes necessary to value the needs of pregnant women who often are not aware of their options,” the Center for Arizona Policy said in a press release.
While anti-abortion advocates see this defeat as a loss, Tucker claims that it reinfornces the idea that the majority of Arizonans stand with Planned Parenthood. She remains optimistic that what is happening across the nation will not successfully take place in Arizona.
“Will they try it?" She asked. "I’m sure. Will we defeat them in the long run? Yes."
In response to the growing attention surrounding reproductive rights, Catherine Corbett, the president of Planned Parenthood Generation Action Club at ASU and a senior studying communications, continues to advocate for access to abortion.
Planned Parenthood Generation Action dedicates their time to advocating for reproductive rights and sexual health awareness, hosting a variety of events including healthcare and call-to-action panels where featuring Arizona representatives. The group also attends women’s marches and abortion ban rallies.
According to Corbett, the group anticipates putting together more events for the fall 2019 semester after the recent increase in attention over reproductive rights.
“In times like these where we’re feeling afraid or confused or angry or frustrated, it’s really important for us to come together as a community and talk about these issues and discuss them openly,” Corbett said. “I think working together as a community really helps us feel better about issues that are going on.”
Corbett said she does not believe that Arizona will follow Alabama's lead, and that she is "hopeful that our advocacy work on all of this really helps to stop that."
For students like public service and public policy senior Jamila Rahim, social media has become a vital tool for making their voices heard.
“I try to get out there as much as I can, but social media is such a valuable platform to really voice your opinion,” Rahim said.
As students continue to advocate and make their voices heard, Tucker claims that women’s clinics across the valley have seen a great increase in supporters and allies.
“Young people are really leading this fight,” Tucker said. “They know that their future depends on it.”