Women in Arizona fight for the future of reproductive health after Texas abortion ban
The state of Texas recently implemented a new law that allows citizens to sue women and doctors involved with performing abortions. Many Arizona legislators are looking to enact a similar law but Arizona women are fighting back.
Women’s March Phoenix held a protest event at the Arizona State Capitol on Oct. 2 to make women’s voices heard after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to uphold Texas’s recent ban on abortion. Flagstaff and Tucson also held marches along with all 50 states across the U.S.
The Texas law, SB 8, has sparked controversy all over the U.S. The law allows citizens of Texas to sue others up to $10,000 who perform or receive an abortion after an embryo’s heartbeat is detected. Citizens can also receive extra money for legal fees from those they sue. The state of Texas is the only state with a law of this kind of policy.
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For future doctors like Michelle Peterson, a medical student at the University of Arizona, it is important for future patients to have access to safe abortions and make the choice without fear of jail time or being sued.
“Supporting the rights to safe and legal abortions is incredibly important and is a public health issue,” Peterson said. “Without access to safe abortions, you find that women are put in more dangerous situations.”
Arizona’s most recent anti-abortion bill was signed by Ducey in April of 2021. Senate Bill 1457 states that it is a Class 6 felony to perform an abortion based on a genetic abnormality and that it is unlawful to have an abortion based on a child’s race or gender. . In the past, Ducey has made a promise to Arizonians that he will always protect the life and rights of preborn children.
At the Women’s March, Rep. Melody Hernandez argued that SB 1457 criminalizes the doctor-patient relationship which has opened up a pathway into uncharted legal territory that puts pregnant individuals at risk.
“SB 1457 passes with the most extreme legislation we saw out of the legislature,” Hernandez said. “This is a strategy being used nationwide that has an end goal of having anti-abortion legislation make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court and then attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
Sen. Nancy Barto is a key sponsor of SB 1457 and describes Texas’s law as “life-saving.” Barto is one of the main legislators looking closely at Texas in order to present similar legislation in Arizona.
“It’s incredibly frustrating as someone who is going into medicine and trying to learn how to protect women. I feel like it is a big step backward and detriment to my education,” Peterson said when asked about Arizona senators supporting Texas’s new ban.
Just like Peterson, many women present at the march are frustrated with the U.S. Supreme Court and Arizona legislators. For Mary Anne Green, this is nothing new. Green, from Cottonwood, Arizona, has been protesting for women’s rights since the early 1970s and has no plans of stopping now.
“I am here to protect women’s rights, and I believe it’s a women’s right to choose we are not giving up,” Green said.
The fight for women’s reproductive rights is nothing new and will continue to be a large topic of debate. Arizona legislators have yet to propose a bill similar to Texas and it is uncertain when they will. The only thing that is certain is Arizona women will not stop fighting for the right to choose.
“We will do what we do best, we will run for office, vote for candidates who truly support reproductive rights and we will ensure anyone who gets in our way will hear us loud and clear,” Rep. Hernandez said.