Arizona, Are You Kidding?
Arizona has a history of passing laws and introducing policies that turn heads and drop jaws. From racial profiling to “crack down on illegal immigration” to the cancellation of the Latino-American education program in Tuscon to various others, proponents of progressive policy and social inclusion have been shaking their heads at Arizona for years.
But if Arizona has done a fantastic job at otherizing anyone whose skin isn’t totally lacking in pigmentation, it has also decided that immigrants and minorities are not the only ones who need to be reigned in. Apparently, women do too.
THE CONCEPTION LAW
Look, I understand being opposed to abortion. I may not AGREE with it, but I UNDERSTAND it. I understand that opponents of abortion are really fixated on the concept of the sanctity of life, and that they believe life begins at conception. Again, I may disagree, but this at least makes sense. There is some sanity embedded in that argument. If you want to say life begins at conception, we can talk about what determines if something is alive etc etc and maybe have a real conversation.
But the great state of Arizona DOESN’T hold that conception is where it all begins. I guess that in a strange hipster-esq moment Arizona’s lawmakers decided THAT definition was too mainstream and instead, they have decided that pregnancy begins with the first day of her last menstrual period, which means that a woman’s pregnancy would begin up to TWO WEEKS before conception.
Guys, when we say that the GOP is refusing to listen to actual science at this point, THIS is what we are referring to. You can’t be pregnant if you haven’t even conceived. THIS IS NOT HOW BIOLOGY WORKS.
Of course, there’s a political reason WHY they have decided to ignore the ways in which biology DOES work: in Arizona, abortion is prohibited after eighteen weeks. Which is now really sixteen weeks due to the fact that a woman is considered pregnant when she really is not. This really restricts the time available for a woman to a) discover she is pregnant (it’s not like a woman figures this out the minute it happens, you know, it takes a few weeks at least) and b) make the difficult decision about having an abortion if that IS the path she chooses to take.
It’s a brilliant way of not technically making abortion illegal just extraordinarily difficult to deal with.
It’s also completely illogical. And as someone who has at some point in her life taken biology, I am baffled by the fact that this was even proposed.
I spent all last summer tracking what was going on with Planned Parenthood. And I had hoped that things would die down once the US budget was taken care of. But then the states decided that they would just take on this War on Women themselves. Arizona is not by any means the first state to attack Planned Parenthood, of course, but it is the latest to do so, with the signing of the Whole Women’s Health Priority Act.
When Gov. Jan Brewer signed this into law, she did so with the intention of “closing loopholes to funding abortion”.
According to an article published by the LA Times, however, “Arizona already bans providing tax dollars for abortion unless the mother’s life is at stake and Planned Parenthood argues that the bill essentially stifles healthcare for women on Medicaid.” This means that in reality, this bill is only hurting poor women who need access to reproductive healthcare.
Of course, not EVERYONE in the state of Arizona is behind this (or any) of the laws; there has been strong opposition to the passage of such measures (admittedly, not strong enough, but it was still there). Arizona Senate candidate Richard Carmona (D) condemned the state’s new law over the weekend,saying “anything we do to diminish access of health care to women’ is bad policy” (source: The Washington Post).
Let’s be honest: taking away women’s healthcare because we want to “protect fetuses” still makes no sense, and declaring women pregnant before they conceive makes even less sense. That anyone can look at an organization and say that they should not be able to provide services like cancer screenings because they are also associated with abortions makes little sense. Hospitals provide abortions; we don’t defund them, because they provide other essential services that we recognize as necessary. The arguments we are hearing from the right make little sense, and it is a shame that they are still being passed through legislatures at the rate we are currently seeing.