Repeal Unconstitutional Anti-Abortion Law

openDemocracy

Target: Doug Ducey, Governor of Arizona

Goal: Repeal restrictive and unconstitutional anti-abortion law.

The Supreme Court recently declared a Texas anti-abortion law unconstitutional, but a nearly identical law remains on the books in Arizona. Sign the petition and demand that the law be repealed immediately.

The law in question has been touted by advocates as protecting women’s health. While the protection of women’s health is an admirable goal, the law is in practice less about that and more about preserving women’s unwanted pregnancies. It requires doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles, and it upholds clinics to the same building specifications required by hospitals.

At first glance both requirements seem like common sense, but in reality they only serve to restrict access to abortions without providing women with any measurable increase in health or safety. For starters, the admitting privileges requirement makes it sound as if women who suffer complications in states without it are subject to a medical wasteland–no hospitals, no doctors, no help. Actually, women can seek medical attention at any hospital, regardless of the cause of their ailment, just like any other patient. Admitting  privileges means that a clinic doctor must essentially have a staff-level position at a hospital–a difficult position for abortion practitioners to obtain, given that most hospitals want to stay away from controversial politics. The requirement does nothing to hasten or facilitate a woman’s access to medical care in the event of an abortion-induced emergency, and it only serves to increase the difficulty of finding providers sanctioned by state law.

The second part of the law, which holds clinics to the same building standards as hospitals, also seems sensible. Hospitals are sterile and organized–wouldn’t anyone want the same from an abortion clinic? Well, yes and no. We of course expect all medical facilities to meet certain standards of cleanliness and professionalism, but hospitals are dealing with very different circumstances than outpatient clinics. For instance, hospitals must have hallways wide enough to fit two gurneys passing side-by-side. A non-surgical outpatient facility has no need for such a requirement, as its traffic and equipment are much different. It’s the equivalent of imposing highway dimensions and regulations on a neighborhood bike path.

Under U.S. law, women have the right to obtain abortions. It is unfair and unconstitutional to block their access to fully legal medical procedures. Sign the petition and demand the repeal of Arizona’s anti-abortion law.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Ducey,

I am writing to urge the repeal of Arizona’s anti-abortion laws similar to those in Texas recently declared unconstitutional. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, the fact is simple: women in the U.S. have the right to access abortion services, and throwing needless roadblocks in their way is unsafe, unfair, and unconstitutional.

Proponents of the law claim it is simply about enacting commonsense measures to protect women’s health. However, the measures put in place by the law do nothing to facilitate or hasten a woman’s access to emergency care in the event of complications. Take admitting privileges, for example. If a woman suffers complications from an abortion procedure and a clinic doctor does not have admitting privileges, she…goes to the hospital and gets admitted anyway. If her doctor does have admitting privileges at a hospital 30 miles away, and there’s a hospital right down the street that the woman prefers…she’ll go there. What exactly is accomplished through this law?

In addition to making absolutely no difference in women’s ease of access to emergency care, the admitting privileges requirement simply puts up another roadblock for clinics and their patients; since very few hospitals are willing to become embroiled in politics, they often refuse to associate professionally with doctors who perform abortions. This makes admitting privileges difficult to come by, further preventing clinics from being able to provide care to their patients under state law.

Second, the law holds clinics to hospital-level standards. While this sounds like a good idea in theory–we would of course expect all medical facilities to meet certain standards regarding cleanliness and organization–hospitals have a very different volume of traffic and deal in very different kinds of procedures. For instance, they must have hallways wide enough for two gurneys to pass side-by-side. Outpatient clinics have no need for such standards. If they did, then so would dentists’ offices, walk-in clinics, family practices, and so on.

Arizona’s anti-abortion law is unnecessarily restrictive and does nothing to protect women’s health. In the words of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s concurring opinion on the recent Supreme Court case: “Many medical procedures, including childbirth, are far more dangerous to patients, yet are not subject to ambulatory surgical-center or hospital admitting-privileges requirements…It is beyond rational belief that [the law] could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law ‘would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.'”

I urge you to correct the situation in Arizona. Please repeal this restrictive and unhelpful law.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: openDemocracy

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