Here We Go Again. Arizona Bill Would declare Pregnancy 2 Weeks Before Conception
Arizona bill would declare pregnancy 2 weeks before conception
Wednesday, April 4, 2012 12:25 EDT
A measure passed Arizona’s Senate claims that it
would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but experts say that
the bill is far more restrictive, effectively banning abortions after 18
weeks and declaring that a woman could be pregnant 2 weeks before she
even had sex.
Arizona’s HB 2036
takes Nebraska’s 20-week abortion ban one step further by starting the
clock on pregnancies at the woman’s last last menstrual period, which
could be two weeks before fertilization.
Specifically, the bill would “[p]rohibit abortions at or after twenty
weeks of gestation, except in cases of a medical emergency, based on
the documented risks to women’s health and the strong medical evidence
that unborn children feel pain during an abortion at that gestational
age,” where gestational age is defined as “age of the unborn child as
calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the
Guttmacher Institute’s State Issues Manager Elizabeth Nash
told Raw Story that obstetricians start the clock on pregnancies after
the “last menstrual period” to “be on the safe side.”
“Certainly, they are trying move the gestational cutoff from what had
been over the last two years a 20-week gestational cutoff to an 18-week
gestational cutoff,” Nash explained. “At the same time, they are trying
to say, ‘Oh, this is a 20-week abortion ban.’ And they get away with
that with the definition of gestational age that’s in the bill.”
RH Reality Check’s Amanda Marcotte noted that this means legislators are arguing women could be pregnant before they even have sex.
“Think about the implications down the road,” she wrote. “If a woman
is ‘pregnant’ two weeks before she becomes pregnant, than any fertile
woman—including those currently menstruating!—should really be
considered pregnant. After all, we don’t know the future. We don’t know
that any non-pregnant woman couldn’t be pregnant two weeks from now,
making her retroactively pregnant now.”
“Considering that it’s anti-choice nuts we’re talking about, it’s
safe to assume that they’d simply prefer a situation where all women of
reproductive age are considered to be pregnant, on the grounds that they
could be two weeks from now,” Marcotte added. “Better safe than sorry,
especially if that mentality means you get to exert maximum control over
the bodies of women of reproductive age.”
At this point, Nash said the Arizona bill has “very good chances of passage” because it is largely misunderstood.
“The media has been talking about this as a 20-week abortion
ban without, I think, really looking into the definition,” she observed.
“Two weeks is a long time. … [The bill] does not talk about any sort of
fetal impairment. In this time frame is when you would have an
[amniocentesis] done or other tests and it takes away women’s options if
there is a problem with the pregnancy.”
Because clinicians use the definition of “last menstrual period” to
determine the start of the pregnancy, Nash did not expect any legal
challenges on those grounds — but the bill has other problems.
“What the Supreme Court has said is that states have the right to ban
abortion after viability, but that any ban on abortions after viability
must protect a woman’s life or health,” she told Raw Story. “So, a law
like this would be in conflict with those decisions in the sense that it
bans abortion much earlier than viability and does not take into
account the full ramifications of life and health.”
“This is a very dangerous bill,” Nash concluded.
I just mailed the icon I used for this poll to my senator along with my feelings on what the republicans are trying to do. My senator is a republican.
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