Make no mistake about it. Republicans want to force women to stay pregnant, and they’re willing to sanction rape and violate Supreme Court rulings to do it. Senate Republicans in Arizona have passed a bill that bans abortion after 18 weeks of pregnancy and forces women to endure transvaginal ultrasounds before having an abortion.
HB 2036 not only does both of the above mentioned, it also requires women to wait 24 hours before having an abortion, declares pregnancy to begin “from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman,” and declares that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks or earlier. The bill also criminalizes doctors for performing abortions after 18 weeks and mandates them to “offer to show a pregnant woman the ultrasound, describe it to her verbally and provide her with a photo of “the unborn child.””
According to Mother Jones, “although it includes exceptions if the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the woman, there are no exceptions if, for instance, the fetus is found to have a life-threatening condition or other severe impairment. Banning abortions at the 18-week mark would also preclude women from obtaining information about the condition of the fetus, as many medical tests are either not performed or are not conclusive at that early date.” The bill also doesn’t make any exemptions for women who are raped, which means they’d have to be raped again. This time, the rapist is the state of Arizona.
The bill now goes to the House and if it passes and is signed by Governor Jan Brewer, it would be the most extreme anti-abortion law in the nation. Arizona’s ultrasound law is similar to the one dropped by the Virginia legislature earlier this year. If any state is going to mandate rape, it’s extreme right wing Arizona. But this bill is more than just state sanctioned rape. The bill is an attempt to rewrite science. Mother Jones reports that “although the bill states that the gestational age of the fetus should be “calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman…that’s not exactly the same as the actual date the egg and the sperm hooked up. Figuring out that exact point one became pregnant can be tricky. Most women ovulate about 14 or 15 days after their period starts, and women can usually get pregnant from sexual intercourse that occured anywhere between five days before ovulation and a day after it. Arizona’s law would start the clock at a woman’s last period—which means, in practice, that the law prohibits abortion later than 18 weeks after a woman actually becomes pregnant.”
In other words, Republicans are making up their own science to justify bad laws. The bill also claims that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks or earlier, which is also false because real scientific studies place a fetus’ ability to feel pain at 24 weeks or even later. According to multiple studies, including one in 2005, scientists generally agree that fetuses can’t feel pain until well into the third trimester after 24 weeks. The 2005 study suggests 28 weeks. This is real science, but Republicans hate real science so they invent their own.
The bill also violates Supreme Court precedent by essentially banning abortion after one and a half trimesters, which is 4 months and two weeks, or 18 weeks. Only abortions after 24 weeks are allowed to be limited by states under the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision made by the Supreme Court, so Arizona Republicans are breaking the law and violating precedent by banning abortions after 18 weeks.
Republicans in Arizona are demented and cruel. This anti-abortion bill is composed of many different restrictions that put women in danger and violates their privacy, personal liberty, bodies, and doctor/patient confidentiality. Republicans might as well have repealed women’s rights while they were it. This bill is that egregious. Republicans act like women are stupid. They think women know nothing about pregnancy, and that’s pretty damn insulting since women, more than anyone else outside of medical professionals, know what it means to be pregnant. And when a woman chooses to have an abortion, it is a deeply personal decision that she makes with her physician. But it is a choice she makes about her own body and health and she is the only one qualified to make those decisions. Not a bunch of anti-women, anti-privacy, anti-liberty politicians in Phoenix, Arizona.