The Republican controlled Arizona legislature has passed a restrictive abortion bill, and sent it to Republican governor Doug Ducey.
According to Reuters, the bill will prohibit Arizona women from buying insurance policies on the federal Healthcare.gov exchange that include coverage for abortions. The state House of Representatives passed the bill on March 23 by a 33-24 margin. The vote in the Senate was 18-11, with two Democrats joining Republicans in support of the bill. Governor Ducey, who opposes abortion, has not yet said whether he will sign the bill into law.
Proponents of the Arizona bill say that it will prevent taxpayers from paying for abortion services. They make that claim based on the fact that many who sign up for insurance coverage through the federal or state exchanges receive subsidies to help them pay for their policies. This is a similar argument to that made in the Hobby Lobby case, where owners of the store chain argued that they should not be required to pay for insurance that covered certain types of birth control.
The bill’s opponents counter that there is no proof that public money has been used to pay for abortions.
While the bill includes exemptions that permit women to obtain abortion coverage in the case of rape, or incest, opponents point out how ridiculous those exemptions are when it comes to buying insurance. Tuscon Democrat Victoria Steele says,
That is a cruel joke, because imagine that someone, your daughter, is pregnant as the result of a rape. They would need to talk to their insurance company to prove they qualify for this exemption? How humiliating, how traumatizing that is.
The bill also includes language about reversing the effects of the abortion pill.
The bill also requires that patients be told that the effects of taking an abortion pill can be reversed by receiving high doses of a hormone. Katie Hobbs, a Phoenix Democrat, who is the Senate minority leader, said, “This is junk science, this is quack medicine. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere. . . that supports this as a valid medical procedure.”
There is at least one published paper that suggests that the effects of the RU-486 abortion pill can be reversed by giving a dose of the hormone progesterone. However, that paper indicates that the effect of progesterone was observed in a very small group, of only six women. The abstract of that paper notes that, as of 2012, there had been no studies or clinical trials that have been done to investigate the claim that progesterone can reverse the abortion pill.
According to ABC News, Dr. Kathleen Morrell, who performs abortions, says this about the procedure.
It’s experimental. It’s untested, and if we don’t know it works then why are we doing it? Show me the evidence, because we have piles of research behind what we’re doing. They don’t have a pile.
The Arizona action on abortion proves once again, that when Republicans are in power, they show that their concern about “freedom” only extends to the bank accounts and financial activities of big business, and millionaires. Women’s control over their own bodies, or even over the type of health care coverage they choose to purchase, doesn’t make the cut.
Image via Anna Levinzon/Flickr