By Kendrick Wilson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday January 28, 2003
It seems reproductive rights are always under attack these days. I suppose our leaders feel it's more important to force women to have unwanted children than to take care of the children already here.
The most recent strike came from the Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee, who just brought a blatantly anti-choice bill, sponsored by Representative Marilyn Jarrett, R-Mesa, one step closer to passage.
The bill would require a 24-hour waiting period before a woman could get an abortion. It also requires that the woman be given certain information at least 24 hours before the abortion is performed, including the gestational age of the "unborn child."
Thankfully, Governor Janet Napolitano promised during the campaign to veto any bill that required a waiting period on abortions. Should the bill pass both houses of the legislature, her veto is expected.
Although few and far between, there are a couple of rational voices in the legislature as well. Senator Linda Binder, R-Lake Havasu City, whose husband is a physician, questioned the need for this legislation. She was quoted in Thursday's Arizona Daily Star as saying that physicians are already required to give all relevant information about any surgical procedure.
As Sunday's Star editorial pointed out, the only women who will be slowed down and possibly intimidated by the provisions in Rep. Jarrett's bill are the poor, the uneducated, and those intimidated by bureaucracy.
Rep. Jarrett's bill comes with the intent to discourage women from having abortions. It tries to appease the ultra-conservatives in our state who have a hard-line anti-choice platform. Indeed, they do favor small government, so long as it is small enough to fit into our bedrooms and doctor's offices.
The Star's editorial also noted that by referring to the gestational age of the "unborn child," this law tries to answer the question of life begins. Our state legislature should not be in the business of answering religious and philosophical questions. Civil liberties are typically chipped away in small pieces.
Ironically, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent the bill to the full state Senate last Wednesday on the 30th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
Given Gov. Napolitano's near guarantee of a veto, Rep. Jarrett's bill is little more than a waste of our legislature's time. We have reached a sad day in Arizona when our legislature spends its days concocting ways of driving wedges into a woman's right to choose rather than bringing forth workable plans to help the countless children already born in our state who live in poverty, receive inadequate health care, and attend some of the worst schools in the nation.
While this bill may prove to be nothing more than a waste of time, women in Arizona and across the nation are watching as their reproductive rights are questioned at every possible opportunity. Should any of the Supreme Court justices retire, President Bush is expected to put forth a nominee who is interested in overturning Roe v. Wade.
A gag rule still bars the UA Medical School from teaching its medical students how to perform abortions. Students who choose to learn the procedure must go off campus to do so, and are subject to public ridicule.
University Medical Center is also barred from performing abortions and must send women elsewhere who need an abortion, even when the woman's health is at risk.
Only one hour of discussion of abortion is included in the curriculum for most UA medical students. Many then become primary care physicians, gynecologists, or obstetricians who have little or no knowledge about abortion and are unable to provide facts to their patients.
Rep. Marilyn Jarrett's bill, SB 1035, does nothing to help women and is clearly a waste of our legislature's time and energy. As the Star was quick to point out, no other surgical procedure in Arizona is required by state law to have a 24-hour waiting period. This bill erodes reproductive rights in a time when the Christian Right is taking over our nation's politics.
This bill, along with other attacks on legalized abortion, should not be approved by the legislature and deserves the opposition of everyone who values the right to choose.