In Arizona, women are now legally pregnant two weeks before conception, according to a new law, the Orwellianly-named, “Women’s Health and Safety Act,” signed yesterday by Republican Governor Jan Brewer. The scientifically, medically, ethically, and intellectually dishonest legislation is designed to reduce the amount of time a woman is allowed to have a legal abortion, and is one of the most draconian bills to become law in America.
The bill was sponsored by extremist Arizona State Rep. Kimberly Yee, (image, right) who last month penned an op-ed titled, “No drug test, no welfare.” Yee wrote:
States have an obligation to hold those on public assistance accountable for their actions. Receiving a public benefit is a privilege, not a right. The debate on drug testing welfare recipients is simply about the responsible use of tax dollars.
It’s unclear where in the U.S. constitution it states that the states “have an obligation to hold those on public assistance accountable for their actions.”
“Planned Parenthood of Arizona lobbyist Michelle Steinberg called the law the country’s ‘most extreme piece of anti-abortion legislation’.” the Tucson Citizen reported:
She said the law defines pregnancy in a way that bans abortion two weeks before the other seven states with similar laws, because it calculates gestational age starting with the first day of the last menstrual period rather than the date of conception.
During the hearings on the bill, doctors said many women don’t discover their fetus has a severe or life-threatening problem until an ultrasound at about the 20th week. The doctors — and several women who had faced this issue — testified that this law would arbitrarily cut off the right for these women to have an abortion.
“My heart goes out to the families that will be impacted,” Steinberg said. “Women are being forced to carry children that they know will end up dying within hours of birth.”
The bill signed into law Thursday makes other changes to abortion regulations, including the requirement of an ultrasound 24 hours before the procedure. The law becomes effective 90 days after the Legislature ends its session, which is likely to occur later this month.
Current law allows abortions up until the point of viability, when a fetus could reasonably survive on its own outside the womb. That’s considered by many medical experts and abortion clinics to be from 22 to 24 weeks. Current law also allows abortions beyond that to protect the “life or health of the woman” but doesn’t define health.
The Daily Beast adds:
The stipulation likely to be most widely felt is what experts are calling an effective shutdown of medication abortions. These nonsurgical abortions are usually performed within the first nine weeks of pregnancy, and account for between 17 and 20 percent of all abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-rights advocacy group. While women often take the pills at clinics and in their homes, the bill now mandates that a medical provider must have hospital privileges within 30 miles of where the procedure takes place. Many times clinics or homes are not within 30 miles of hospitals, and the distance prevents providers from other cities or even states from caring for women, says Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute. Another factor that could contribute to what Nash called a “shutdown” of medication abortions is that the law requires abortion pills to be administered using outdated protocols, confusing providers and obscuring proper use of the drugs.
While it becomes the seventh state to pass such legislation in the past two years, many Arizonans believe theirs is the most restrictive and sinister because of the degree to which it will legislate health care, thwart evidence-based medicine, and shame women. One in three women will have an abortion before age 45 according to Guttmacher, and more than half of those women already have a child.
The law “disregards women’s health in a way I’ve never seen before,” said Center for Reproductive Rights’ state advocacy counsel, Jordan Goldberg. “The women of Arizona can’t access medical treatment that other women can.”
Other parts of the law includes education in public schools prioritizing birth and adoption, signs throughout health-care facilities warning against abortion “coercion,” and an order for the state health department to create and maintain a website touting alternatives to abortion and displaying images of fetuses. Also required is abortion counseling for women aiming to abort pregnancies due to fetal abnormalities, and if the abnormality is certain to be fatal, the counseling incorporates perinatal hospice information before ending the pregnancy. It reaffirms existing barriers to access, like the requirement of a notarized parental consent form for minors and a mandatory ultrasound screening within 24 hours of having an abortion.
State Rep. Kimberly Yee, the sponsor of the House bill, which passed Monday, said she acted with her constituents in mind, adding that many of them feel it “doesn’t go far enough.”
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