Thursday, March 15, 2018

'It's none of your business': Arizona lawmakers water down abortion-question bill

The Arizona Republic (Mar. 15, 2018): 'It's none of your business': Arizona lawmakers water down abortion-question bill, by Dustin Gardiner:

An Arizona Senate bill expanding the state's abortion reporting requirements by making doctors list at least one reason from a list of 11 options, including whether the abortion is due to "economic reasons" or "relationship issues, including abuse, separation, divorce and extramarital affairs," is advancing in the legislature. A requirement in the bill that doctors gather new data about why women choose to end their pregnancies caused outrage and made national headlines.

Republicans in the Arizona House of Representatives voted Wednesday to amend the legislation, Senate Bill 1394, to remove that especially invasive requirement.

Doctors in the state already must report to the Department of Health Services if an abortion is "elective" or "due to a maternal or fetal medical concern."

The House Judiciary and Public Safety Committee voted to strike the provision from the bill at the urging of Chairman Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert. Farnsworth and other Republican supporters of the bill didn't explain why they backed an amendment to remove its most controversial provision.

Earlier this week, opponents of SB 1394 held a press conference outside the Capitol to blast what they called an "invasive" attempt to intimidate women who seek a legal medical procedure.

Serena Knierim, who received an abortion as a teenager, said at the press conference the bill would violate women's privacy by subjecting them to an interrogation "for political and religious reasons."

"Why did I get an abortion?" she said. "It's none of your business."

SB 1394 would require doctors to report more specific information about any medical complications from an abortion, which they already must report to the state. It also would require clinics to report details like the specialty of the doctor, whether the abortion was outpatient or inpatient, the type of facility where it was performed and whether anesthesia was used. Dr. Gabrielle Goodrick, an abortion provider in east Phoenix, said that the worst provisions of SB 1394 are its remaining requirements on doctors and facilities.

Serious complications from abortion are rare: In 2016, 13,170 Arizona women received abortions in the state; 33 of them experienced complications, according to the state Health Department.

The bill now faces a vote in the full House. If approved, it must also return to the Senate for another vote because it was amended.

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