Arizona Republican lawmakers who want to require women seeking an abortion to answer a state-crafted set of questions about their motivation for ending a pregnancy say their aim is to gather information, not interfere in a woman’s personal health-care decision.
A bill, which passed the Arizona House Monday, was revised from what has already passed the state Senate.
The House changed the questions to be asked, according to reporting from Capitol Media Services, to whether the “abortion is elective, due to maternal or fetal health, whether the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, whether the woman is a victim of sex trafficking or domestic violence and whether the woman is being ‘coerced into obtaining an abortion.’”
The Senate would have to approve the House changes for the bill to reach Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk.
Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, and other Republicans, emphasized the research-gathering explanation.
“What this bill is about is getting information,” he said.
Getting selective information is more like it.
The questions are less prurient than in the original Senate version — which included asking women if “relationship issues” like extramarital affairs contributed to seeking an abortion — but are still state interference in a personal medical decision.
The Republicans’ desire for information-gathering is limited, as well.
If the goal were to learn more about why women decide to end a pregnancy, then the Republicans should have had no problem expanding the list to more fully include possible contributing factors.
But they rejected a proposal from Rep. Daniel Hernandez, a Tucson-area Democrat, to add two questions: Did the woman lack access to affordable health care, and did she have access to “adequate comprehensive sex education.”
Farnsworth’s response was a head-scratcher.
“Sex education is not a health-care issue. Having access to contraception is not a health-care issue,” he said.
“It’s a pre-health-care issue.”
This makes as much sense as telling a teenager to not bother wearing a seatbelt in the car — we’ll just think about that after you crash and are ejected from the vehicle.
Arizona already places requirements on abortion services that other medical care doesn’t carry, including a waiting period, which can cause hardships for women living in areas without an abortion provider because they must travel for the procedure.
Farnsworth’s information-gathering explanation also falls short as a practical matter. It states that if a woman says yes to being the victim or rape, incest, sex-trafficking or domestic abuse, the hospital or facility must provide her with information about her right to report a crime to law enforcement, plus resources available, including a national human-trafficking resource hotline.
This bill does not specify how the information gathered would be used, nor does it address preventing unwanted pregnancies, preventing and prosecuting rape, incest and sex-trafficking. Farnsworth maintains the questions are about gathering information, but to what end?
Arizona does not require comprehensive or scientifically accurate health information in its public schools.
If Republicans were serious about reducing the number of abortions, they would embrace easily accessible contraception and accurate sex education — not a questionnaire.