Thursday, January 27, 2011

What's the Limit on Saying Here We Go Again?

Perhaps you've heard that Arizona is in somewhat dire straits. The state is wrestling with--and losing to, badly--an epic budget crisis that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of low-income people (we have more than any state in the nation) being kicked off of state-provided healthcare (including a few people who have died after being removed from the organ transplant list), mental health services being slashed, aid to developmentally disabled people being gutted, public schools closing, state universities eliminating departments and not hiring new staff to fill positions left vacant (250 university professors were just offered a year's pay to retire early and go away), and state parks being shuttered (leaving priceless Native American sites vulnerable to looting). The private sector economy is just as bad, with high unemployment (in fact, we just added to our worst-in-the-nation trophy case on Monday, when we found out that we have the highest rate of teenage unemployment in the country, a whopping 31%).

So, naturally, the Republicans and tea partiers who were freshly elected or reliably re-elected on the strength of campaigns touting them as fiscal saviors have gotten right down to business. With a slew of bills restricting abortion even more than it already is.

First up is Steve Montenegro (R-Litchfield Park), offering a pair of nifty bills intended to crack down on the rampant practice of sex-selection abortions. Well, both bills ban sex selection. One also tacks on a race-selection ban.

HB 2443, crafted by Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Litchfield Park, would require a woman to sign an affidavit she is not seeking an abortion because of the child's sex or race. Montenegro has a separate measure, HB 2442, dealing only with abortions based on sex selection.

Any doctor who performed an abortion knowing race or sex selection was the reason would face felony charges. And the legislation would permit the father of the unborn child, if married to the woman having the abortion, to sue the doctor for damages.

This must be a significant problem in Arizona for Rep. Montenegro to have taken the time to write two separate bills addressing it, no? Oh.

Neither Montenegro nor independent searches of state records and the Internet provided any information indicating a significant number of women are seeking abortions for those reasons.

Montenegro promised supporting data when interviewed initially last week, but as of late Wednesday had provided none. He said he will have more specifics to back those claims today.

I will, of course, stay glued to the Daily Star today so that I can bring you those specifics just as soon as they hit the wire. He at least had the courtesy to give us a little tease.

But Montenegro said he has information "that there are targeted communities that the abortion industry targets." He said for the purposes of his ban, an abortion based on race would include situations where the parents are the same race as the fetus.
OMG TARGETED COMMUNITY IS TARGETED. And no more aborting because you're white and were really hoping to save on the plane fare by popping out an Asian baby. Or because you're Mexican and were hoping to change things up a little with a Norwegian. Or a puppy. Or something.

It becomes slightly more ominous, though, when Montenegro explains his "targeting" claim by pointing out that abortion rates are higher for nonwhites than for whites. Which makes it hard to read his proposed ban on situations where parents are the same race as the fetus as a particular ban on nonwhite women having abortions.

Our other entry comes courtesy of Rep. Kimberly Yee (R-Phoenix), co-sponsored by only 34 other Republicans, which brings Oklahoma-style mandated ultrasounds to our fair shores. Doctors would be required to (a) explain what the ultrasound shows, (b) show the woman a picture of the ultrasound, and (c) play audio of the heartbeat if one is audible before the woman can give her final consent for the procedure. No word on if the woman will also be required to sit in a rocking chair with an appropriately flesh-toned plush fetus-doll and read it Goodnight Moon before the abortion can take place. All of this is completely necessary, of course, for a very simple reason.

Yee, who said she opposes abortion, believes some women do not have a full understanding of what they are doing.
But the girls who want to keep the baby because then the guy will finally love them and the baby will love them and sit quietly all day and not bring any undue disruption or hardship to their lives? They totally fully understand what they're doing.

It's morning in Arizona. And it sucks.

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