Proposal would set abortion regulations - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Proposal would set abortion regulations

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Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 6:39 pm | Updated: 12:57 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Hoping a new governor means a different result, abortion foes have combined three separate - and previously vetoed - abortion measures into a single bill.

HB2564 would:

Require women to wait for 24 hours before terminating a pregnancy;

Allow health professionals, hospitals and pharmacists to refuse to perform abortions or provide "morning after" pills or even to "facilitate" a woman getting access to either;

Spell out in statute what factors a judge may consider in determining if a minor is mature enough to have an abortion without first getting parental consent.

Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, acknowledged that she believes life begins at conception and, if she had her way, abortion would not be legal.

That also is the view of two of the major supporters of the measure: the Center for Arizona Policy and the Arizona Catholic Conference, which represents the state's Catholic bishops.

But Barto said it is legal and that the provisions in this measure are not a back-door way of undermining that right.

"These will not stop one abortion from occurring if a woman wanted to go ahead with it," she said. "These are just common-sense provisions that will protect the rights of women."

Barto may already have the votes she needs. All three of the measures have previously been approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature, only to be vetoed by Democrat Janet Napolitano.

And 12 of the 30 senators as well as 27 of 60 representatives already have signed HB2564 as sponsors.

Barto said she has not yet talked with Gov. Jan Brewer about the measure, but the two-term legislator said she believes - based on Brewer's position when she was a legislator in the 1990s - that the new governor, unlike her predecessor, will sign the measure.

Brewer press aide Paul Senseman would not comment on the bill but said Brewer "has a very strong, solid track record of being pro-life."

The broadest part of the measure provides what Barto said is "informed consent" by women who are considering an abortion.

That includes providing, face-to-face, details of the nature of the procedure and the immediate and long-term risks associated with the procedure. Patients must also be told the probable gestational age of the fetus - referred to in the legislation as "the unborn child" - and the "probable anatomical and physiological characteristics" of that unborn child at the time the abortion would be performed.

Other provisions require a woman to be told that:

Medical assistance may be available for prenatal care, childbirth and neonatal care;

The father of the unborn child is required to provide child support, even if he offered to pay for the abortion;

Public and private agencies and services are available to assist a woman if she chooses not to have an abortion, whether she chooses to keep the child or give it up for adoption.

Napolitano, in vetoing a less comprehensive measure in 2004, called it "undue government intrusion into the relationship between a woman and her doctor, her family, her religious counselor, or whomever else she wishes to consult in making this most difficult of personal and medical decisions."

She said current case law already requires a doctor to obtain informed consent before performing any surgery.

"That is not happening," Barto said of the requirement for informed consent. "Women are not being told these things and given complete medical information on these procedures."

Barto said the provisions about hospitals and pharmacists will "protect health care professionals from having to choose between their profession and their faith."

Current law already protects doctors and hospital staffers from having to perform abortions. Aside from expanding the scope of who is covered, the language in HB2564 is specifically aimed at whether professionals need to offer "emergency contraception."

The issue has arisen because there are conflicting views on how the "morning after" pill - essentially a large dose of hormones - works. Some argue that it prevents ovulation, which would not be an abortion; others say that it is an "abortifacient," which prevents a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterine wall.

Ron Johnson, lobbyist for the Arizona Catholic Conference, said people who own private businesses should not be forced to do things they find morally objectionable.

"I know a pharmacist in Prescott who owns his own pharmacy," Johnson said. "He won't carry this. He'll shut down if you force him to carry it and there'll be even less access" to medications.

Johnson also said that anyone who wants these medications probably could order them by phone and get them delivered overnight. "Or you could travel a little bit further to the next drug store, even in rural areas," he said.

Planned Parenthood Arizona refused to respond to repeated requests to answer questions about their objections to the legislation, instead releasing a prepared statement from President Bryan Howard saying that the measure "makes health care less accessible and more expensive."

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