Back in 2009, Arizona’s state legislature passed incredibly intrusive and prohibitive laws limiting abortion access. Planned Parenthood petitioned for and was granted an injunction blocking the most extreme portions of the “Abortion Consent Act.” Last week, an appeals court overturned the injunction saying, in essence, that while placing “undue burden” on abortion access is unconstitutional, placing “some burden” is not.
The law includes required in-person counseling with a doctor at least 24 hours in advance. It also mandates that only a doctor can perform surgical abortions. Nurse Practitioners trained to provide abortions have comparable safety rates, but according to the appellate court, that is “irrelevant.” The physicians’ only requirement will likely close at least two centers in the state and limit availability at two more. This makes the ability women have to complete the 24 hour in advance counseling even harder to manage as they will have to travel even farther to get to a qualified provider. These requirements serve no purpose other than to make it more difficult for a person to receive the abortion they want and need. The entire thing smacks of disregard for the well being of women that are supposedly being protected by these requirements.
The worst violation seems to be the requirement that minors provide notarized parental consent. Notary publics ARE NOT bound by confidentiality.* Meaning if you go in to get permission for your daughter to have an abortion, the notary can tell anyone they want. If that isn’t a violation of the right to privacy I don’t know what it. The decision to have an abortion should be left up to the woman having it; Arizona already intrudes on that by requiring parental consent, now they want to add another person to the decision? Really? In small communities, getting an abortion already (and undeservedly) has a negative stigma, now politicians are requiring teens to divulge that secret to someone they likely have no personal relationship with? This is a shameful disregard for the rights of women.
The laws cannot be enforced until Planned Parenthood decides whether or not it will appeal the decision to the Arizona Supreme Court and (assuming they do appeal) the Court decides whether or not it will hear the case. More restrictive laws were passed earlier this year and are also being challenged, this decision will likely lead to these being upheld as well. The knot around women’s rights in Arizona just seems to be getting tighter and tighter
*This is based on the fact that I could find no references to a confidentiality law in Arizona that referred to notaries; if this is incorrect please correct me.