Phoenix, AZ – Health officials report there were 729 pregnancies terminated last month. That compares with an average of 12-hundred a month in the year before. What changed is that several new laws kicked in. One requires a woman to consult with a doctor at least 24 hours ahead of time. There also is a list of what a woman has to be told and an offer to let her see an ultrasound of the fetus. Cathi Herrod of the anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy, which helped craft the restrictions, said that makes all the difference.
(When women are given information about the gestational age of their preborn child, the risks of the procedure, the abortion procedure, the alternatives that are available, more women choose life. When women are given a face-to-face consultation with a doctor 24 hours before the abortion rather than the doctor just walked in when they perform the abortion, more women are choosing life.)
But Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said the real reason is that his organization effectively lost half of its abortion staff. That's because the new law requires all abortions to be performed by a physician. Prior to that, nurse practitioners could handle medical abortions where women are given drugs to terminate the pregnancy. Howard said there just are not enough doctors available to meet the demand who are both trained to do the procedure and are willing to deal with the harassment.
(Let's remember that we have had physicians, health care providers, who have been protested in their homes. The number of physicians who are willing to put themselves and their families at risk for that is limited.)
Howard said the numbers mean there were 400 women in Arizona last month who wanted to get an abortion but could not -- meaning 400 babies will be born to families who may not be able to afford to feed them. Herrod said while she is glad the new laws mean fewer pregnancies are terminated, this is not the end of the fight and that there will be even more restrictions sought next legislative session. But she was unwilling to provide details.
(You're not getting anything out of me. We've not made any final decisions. We'll be working with legislative leadership and pro-life legislators to determine the next step.)
For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.