Women in Arizona will now have to explain why they're seeking abortion care, thanks to a new law signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey on Saturday.
Arizona is already one of the most restrictive states in the nation when it comes to abortion. According to Senate Bill 1394, doctors must now ask women the reason for which they're choosing to to have an abortion — specifically inquiring whether the pregnancy is the result of a rape or if they're requesting abortion care because they're victims of domestic abuse or sex trafficking. Going through with the questionnaire is not required for patients, since the law allows women to refuse answering the doctors' questions.
SB 1394 also requires physicians to report their patients' answers to the state's Department of Health Services, which already receives abortion-related statistics from providers. Patient names will be kept confidential.
Supporters of the new law say that the questionnaire will help sexual assault survivors and those coerced into having an abortion, since providers will be required to offer information on support services and contacting law enforcement.
But reproductive rights advocates and domestic abuse experts argue the questions might scare women who might already be in a dangerous situation. They also insist that it's not the government's business to know why a person is seeking a legal and safe medical procedure.
"It’s no wonder Gov. Ducey signed this intrusive law behind closed doors. SB 1394 is a bill that proponents claim is about women’s health and safety. Let’s be clear: This law, along with the dozens of other laws passed in recent years, will not improve the lives or health care for people who need it in the state," Jodi Liggett, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, said in a statement provided to Refinery29.
She added, "No mainstream medical organization supports this bill. Instead of shaming and harassing women seeking health care, we urge policymakers to focus on respectful solutions that increase access to birth control and help women who want to plan or prevent pregnancy to do so."
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