PHOENIX — Women who want to terminate a pregnancy are going to be asked some questions first, although they won’t have to answer.
Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday signed a measure into law that spells out a new list of things that doctors and clinics are required to ask women seeking abortions. The law takes effect this summer.
Existing law contains an open-ended question that health care providers are supposed to ask about the reason for the abortion. That includes whether the procedure is elective or due to an issue of maternal or fetal health.
But Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, said that doesn’t provide sufficient information, at least not in a form that can be classified into categories and published in annual reports by the Department of Health Services.
As originally crafted by Cathi Herrod of the anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy, the list of choices women would have been given when asked why they wanted an abortion would have included economic reasons, a decision not to have children at this time, the pregnancy was due to rape or incest, or that there were “relationship issues, including abuse, separation, divorce and extramarital affairs.”
That gained Senate approval over the objections of Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix. “If I get an abortion, it is no one’s business,” Hobbs said. “It is not this Legislature’s business, it is not the governor’s business or anyone in state government. The Catholic Church does not need to know why I am getting an abortion, and not the Center for Arizona Policy.”
Then, when several House Republicans balked at the list, Herrod was forced to pare it down.
As signed by Ducey, the bill will require that women be asked whether the abortion is elective or whether it was due to one of a list of medical conditions.
Other questions will include whether the procedure is being sought because the pregnancy is due to rape or incest. Women also will be asked whether they are being coerced into the abortion and whether they are the victim of sex trafficking or domestic violence.
Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert said the questions on sex trafficking and coercion will give women, who will be taken into a separate room, a chance to seek help.
Nothing in the measure requires a woman to answer in order to have a pregnancy terminated.
Ducey, in a written statement, said the bill simply updates existing reporting requirements by requesting information, which women need not provide, on whether a crime has occurred and provides information on services to women on how to report that crime.
The governor did not address the other questions women will be asked which are not related to crimes.