Thursday, March 12, 2009

Arizona House Decides Women Don't Have Brains in Those Pretty Little Heads, Approves Abortion Restrictions

Hoo boy. The Arizona legislature happily slapped reproductive rights further back toward the 1950s yesterday with a 36-18 vote approving HB 2564. If you're a female with functioning ovaries and uterus in Arizona, this is the world you woke up to this morning:
HB 2564 would require a 24-hour waiting period before a woman could terminate a pregnancy. During that time, the woman would have to be told "the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics" of the unborn child at that point.

The bill also requires that the woman be told, in person, that:

• The father of the child is liable for support, even if he agreed to pay for the abortion.

• Medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth and postnatal care if they decided against an abortion.

• Public and private agencies can assist the woman before and after the birth, whether she chooses to keep the child or put it up for adoption.

Your baby has fingernails! The father will pay child support for 18 years, and if you're lucky he'll even do it voluntarily from day one instead of the state having to chase him to Louisiana to garnish his wages! Medical assistance benefits may be available if you don't have insurance! Public agencies can assist you, even though the state is working overtime to cut every bit of health & human services spending out of the budget that we can! Did we mention your baby has fingernails and can silently sing the ABC song along with you inside your womb?

Democrats in the house were left to state the obvious things the rest of us were screaming as we read the article.

"The requirement of a mandated lecture and a 24-hour reflective period is not only insulting but assumes that women do not adequately think through their abortion decisions, and that the state must do their thinking for them," said Rep. Olivia Cajero Bedford, D-Tucson.

Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, said the help promised by the law doesn't exist because lawmakers have cut funding for many of these programs."We're passing a bill demanding health-care professionals to lie to these women and say that there are services available," he said.

Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, complained no other medical procedure requires a 24-hour waiting period, including vasectomies and tubal ligations, which end a person's ability to have children.

Silly Democrats, with your assumptions of female agency and your... your... logic! House Republicans rebutted in the expected way, with Nancy "people in rural areas are accustomed to traveling long distances for services" Barto serving as the warmup act.

But Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, said the waiting period and the information are necessary. "Women need to know the nature and purpose of a proposed treatment or procedure; the risks and benefits, alternatives, regardless of their cost or health-insurance coverage; the risks and benefits of the alternative treatment or procedure; and the risks and benefits of not receiving a treatment or procedure," she said.

As if women seeking an abortion have not already thought about it long and hard for exactly as many days or weeks as their periods have been late. As if they are unaware it's an embryo lurking in there rather than an orange or possibly a lemur. Leave it to Frank "don't call me a Tucsonan; they're all hippies there" Antenori (R-Tucson), though, to lay bare exactly what this is all about:

Rep. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, said there is "a duty to protect either our wives or our daughters from making decisions that may come back to haunt them further down the road in their lives."

Aaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnd we have a winner! It's breathtaking. Republican men must protect their wives and daughters--and everyone else's too while they're at it--from making decisions that may come back to haunt them. Where was Frank Antenori 24 years ago when I was trying to decide between Northwestern and Notre Dame? I still kinda wonder if I made the right choice there, so that probably counts as haunting. And when I chose to major in anthropology? Jesus, talk about a life-altering decision! If only Frank Antenori had been there to point out I was guaranteeing myself the ability to be present throughout my son's childhood but would be left really scraping for money to send him to college, maybe I wouldn't be haunted by all this debt today.

The bottom line, Frank, whether you're in Phoenix (or Tucson, actually) or Chicago or Saxapahaw or Morgantown is that facing difficult decisions and then living with the consequences are part and parcel of adulthood. Even if you happen to be female. You can echo Anthony Kennedy's paternalistic concern trolling about delicate female sensibilities and down-the-road regrets all you want, but it does nothing to change the fact that we all make choices that we wish we could change 10 year, 20 years, 50 years later. Some women have an abortion and regret it. Some don't. Some decide to keep the baby and wish they hadn't. Some do and rejoice in it. It's called the human experience, Frank, and I suspect you know that very well but think dressing up your desire to control women in old "think of the children!" clothes that have been gussied up with a few bows that wail "think of the ladies!" will somehow make your policies more palatable. News flash: half of us have been blinded with rage at your paternalism, and the rest of us who've managed to keep one eye clear can still see right through you.

The bill also contains provisions that allow pharmacists and healthcare workers not only to refuse emergency contraception to rape victims, but also to refuse to tell said victims where they might find "healthcare" providers whose heads are not up their asses. It also mandates that all abortions be performed by MDs rather than NPs and PAs with specialized training, further reducing the number of abortion providers in the state and disproportionately impacting rural areas where docs are scarce and NPs/PAs provide the bulk of the care.

It ain't law yet, but it's heading to a state senate in which 12 of the 30 senators have already signed on as sponsors, and a governor's pen wielded by a woman who is no longer Janet Napolitano (epic vetoer of abortion restrictions) but instead is Jan Brewer (epic supporter of making all abortions illegal all the time). Life in the Republican Duchy of Arizona. It's a dry heat, but it burns just the same.

Note: Are you an Arizona female facing a difficult decision you might regret later? Frank Antenori is here to help! Since he clearly wants to protect you from the burden of regret and possibly even simple buyer's remorse, I'm sure he won't mind consulting on any choices you have to make, whether it's about abortion, college choice, career moves, who to pick for the Final Four, or what to have on the pizza tonight! Just don't remind him he lives in Tucson!

Frank Antenori, R-not Tucson: (602)926-5683 (phone) | (602)417-3147 (fax) |

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