Arizona Senate Bill 1394 Seeks Additional Abortion Restrictions

The Arizona Legislature is at it again. Just in case Arizona state laws aren’t intrusive enough, state Sen. Nancy Barto has introduced SB 1394, a bill that would require doctors to ask patients why they are seeking an abortion. SB 1394 would add to Arizona’s already robust reporting requirements, bordering on harassment.

SB 1394 will be heard at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, February 14, by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Arizona already requires people seeking abortions to disclose all kinds of personal information, including age; race; ethnicity; marital status; educational background; and number of prior pregnancies, miscarriages, and abortions. SB 1394 inserts the government even deeper into the doctor-patient relationship with questions that are much more intrusive, such as:

  • Can the patient afford a child?
  • Does the patient not want children?
  • Was the patient raped?
  • Is the pregnancy a result of incest?
  • Did the patient or the sexual partner have an extramarital affair?
  • Was the patient abused by the would-be father?

SB 1394 would require doctors to report the answers of the survey to the Arizona Department of Health Services. The survey would also single out abortion providers for disparate treatment, forcing them to answer questions themselves, such as:

  • The name and address of the health care facility, including type of facility and county where it is located
  • Specialty of abortion provider
  • Type of procedure performed, and any complications that may have occurred during the procedure (health care providers are already required by law to report complications)
  • The reasons for the determination of a medical emergency (if applicable)
  • Whether the fetus was born alive; if actions were taken to save the life of the fetus; and the weight of the fetus before the pregnancy was terminated

Just like the vast majority of anti-choice bills that have been introduced to the Arizona Legislature, SB 1394 was written by Cathi Herrod from Center for Arizona Policy, a vigilant anti-abortion organization that does everything in its power to block access to reproductive health care. Herrod claims that SB 1394 will help abortion providers collect better data to “help improve women’s health,” but politicians are not medical experts. Actual medical experts, like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose bills like SB 1394 because they have not been shown to improve public health.

Instead, SB 1394 has the motive of shaming patients for seeking an abortion. Jodi Liggett, vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood Arizona, argues that because abortion is legal, women don’t need to explain their reasoning to the government, explaining that the bill is “designed to have a chilling effect [that is] off-putting and shaming to patients. Let’s not have any doubt about that. If you want less abortion, there is a kinder and more productive way to go about this … and that would be to provide meaningful access to birth control for anybody who needs it.”

If the bill passes and gets appealed in court, SB 1394 will cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars. It won’t be the first time Arizona has lost money after betting on an overreaching abortion bill. For example, in 2017, the U.S. District Court ruled that Arizona had to repay more than $600,000 to cover the court costs Planned Parenthood Arizona incurred when appealing anti-abortion laws. From a fiscally conservative point of view, laws like SB 1394 don’t make sense — or cents. Why waste tax dollars that could be better spent on increasing the quality of public health, rather than decreasing access to reproductive health care?

Please contact your state senator and express your opposition to this bill. Here are some general talking points you can use:

  • The Supreme Court recognized in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that abortion “has been shown to be much safer, in terms of minor and serious complications, than many common medical procedures,” including colonoscopies, vasectomies, plastic surgeries, and endometrial biopsies.
  • A first-trimester abortion has less than a 0.05 percent chance of complications serious enough to require hospital care.
  • The mortality rate for patients who receive an abortion is 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions. (The mortality rate associated with giving birth is more than 14 times higher.)
  • Patients are not required to provide such detailed personal information to obtain other medical procedures, such as vasectomies or breast augmentations. A patient’s right to privacy should not be contingent on the type of health care they are receiving.

We will keep you in the loop as SB 1394 makes its way through the Legislature. Please help Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona spread the word about SB 1394 by sharing this information with other advocates for reproductive justice.