Question #1: When is a woman who's not pregnant actually pregnant?
Answer: When she lives in Arizona.
I know, I know. You're wondering what the hell I'm talking about. Actually, so am I. The non-sense on this one is making me crazy. It's a dizzying logic that has led the Arizona House of Representatives, Senate and now Governor Jan Brewer to approve legislation that would place the start date for a woman's pregnancy at the first day of her last menstrual cycle. Got it? So while you still have your period and haven't ovulated or conceived or maybe even had sex ever, you're pregnant.
Why? You may be banging your fist into your forehead and asking yourself why would Arizona lawmakers decide to fly in the face of simple biology. But then, if you think about the rash of laws and the outpouring of moral folks who feel the need to legislate over women's bodies and reproduction, you have your answer. Abortion.
House Bill 2036 was just signed by the governor this afternoon. It will prohibit abortion after 20 weeks (except in emergency cases). The new math, biology-defying pregnant before conception statute effectively limits the time frame for women to have an abortion to 18 weeks into the real pregnancy. Unfortunately, there are a lot of genetic tests that have to be done at 16 to 20 weeks. Then, there is a 10 day to 2 week wait for the results. There's no easy way to think about this, but this law means that women in Arizona could be forced to give birth to a child with a life-threatening, deforming disease such as spina bifida, Tay-Sachs or trisomy 18.
Let's look at a disease like Tay-Sachs. It's a genetic condition. There's no cure. Amniocentesis reveals the disease. A baby born with Tay-Sachs has a life expectancy of 4-5 years and the only treatment is to make the child comfortable as the disease progresses. According to Wikipedia, the child [with Tay-Sachs] becomes blind, deaf, unable to swallow, atrophied and paralytic. Arizona lawmakers have to know that the timeline they've created makes an excruciatingly painful situation much, much worse for everyone involved. I'm trying to decide if it's more shockingly ignorant or self-righteous.
Some who favor this law are claiming that it protects women. I'm not sure how that logic works. It seems to follow the same rule that claims every woman in Arizona who has her period is pregnant.
Question #2: How do we stop laws like this from stripping away women's need to reproductive freedom?
Answer: I really wish I knew. There has to be a way to civil discourse. There has to be a way to protect our rights.
I spoke with Cynde Cerf at Planned Parenthood in Arizona. She encouraged people to keep an eye on AZ House Bill 2625. Bill 2625 could force women to provide proof to employers that they're taking birth control for a medical reason such as ovarian cysts, rather than to prevent pregnancy. This bill has received national attention. The Arizona Senate passed the bill and it's headed to Caucus and then onto the House for a vote.
Here's what you can do:
Check out the Planned Parenthood Arizona site for info on getting involved locally.
Become a member of NARAL.
Support Arizona List. We are "a grassroots donor network supporting pro-choice Democratic women running for office in Arizona and we want you to join us!"
More questions coming soon...
(This article has been reprinted from www.betweenparents.org.)
Follow Deborah Stambler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@betweenparents