Arizona Capitol

Ducey Signs Abortion Bill: Doctors Must Ask About Rape, Incest

Antonia Farzan
Doctors will soon be required to ask women seeking an abortion in Arizona whether their pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, and if they've experienced domestic violence or human trafficking.

On Friday, Governor Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1394 into law. The highly controversial bill was backed by the anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy, but opposed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.

The governor didn't hold a photo op to celebrate the passage of this particular bill, as he has with other pieces of legislation. (In fairness, he's been busy trying to convince teachers not to strike.)

“It’s no wonder Gov. Ducey signed this intrusive law behind closed doors," Jodi Liggett, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, said in a statement. "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. 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.”

The bill that Ducey signed Friday was somewhat watered-down from its original version. Initially, lawmakers wanted to ask women why they were getting an abortion and direct them to choose a list of possible explanations, including "economic reasons" and "relationship issues."

Supporters argue that the new law will give women who have been abused or trafficked an opportunity to seek help. But the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence disagreed. The group's sexual violence policy coordinator, Jason Vail Cruz, told the Arizona Republic that the law "adds another layer of trauma to a situation that’s already fraught with a lot of stigma and nerves." 

Last week, lawmakers in the House of Representatives rejected two amendments introduced by Democrats that would have expanded the reporting requirements — just not in the way that anti-abortion Republicans wanted.

Representative Daniel Hernandez of Tucson suggested asking women if they were seeking an abortion because they lacked access to affordable contraception. (In response, Representative Eddie Farnsworth, a Republican from Gilbert, bizarrely claimed, “Having access to contraception is not a health-care issue.”)

Meanwhile, Representative Athena Salman of Tempe suggested requiring crisis-pregnancy centers, which are notorious for providing inaccurate or downright false information, to report regularly to the state and hand over records showing their staff's credentials, their HIPAA protection practices, and the types of counseling they provide. 

"I think the information would be incredibly enlightening and incredibly helpful to advance the health care of women," she told Phoenix New Times before the vote. "I have no idea why any supporter of the underlying bill would not also see value in requiring crisis-pregnancy centers to tell us more information about the services that they are providing in our community."

Both amendments failed. Apparently, there are some limits to lawmakers' curiosity.