HB2036: When Republican isn’t Conservative and Pro-Life Isn’t Pro-Life

April 15, 2012 in Catnip, Op-Ed by apleau

As part of evangelical politics’ extinction burst,  we are witnessing a bizarre war on women in this country.  My home state of Arizona, in an attempt to retain its Heavyweight Champion Belt in Yosemite Sam-ism, recently took the lead in this war by introducing overreaching, extremist legislation that would make Barry Goldwater turn in his grave.  I’m assuming that a few of the elected cockroaches in the state capitol building realized that their lives were still incredibly shitty after driving out all the “illegal Mexicans”, and decided to make women number two on their Shit List.  It couldn’t possibly be because they are horrible people who make horrible decisions, could it? Never! It’s got to be the Mexicans and the bitches.

While I gave Governor Jan Brewer a polite golf-clap for suggesting Debbie Lesko’s anti-birth control bill appeared to be a gross invasion of privacy, I take back any and all praise when she signed the other oppressive, anti-woman bill, HB 2036 into law.  While sites like Mother Jones have done a decent job of covering the part of the bill making abortions after 20 weeks illegal, there are a number of disturbing points within the law’s 27 pages of requirements that aren’t getting a whole lot of attention.  For example:

- A provider must provide the patient with the gestational age of the fetus and list the risks associated with abortions. Sounds simple enough if not a bit redundant, right?  The state takes it 900 steps too far by overriding actual medical science and requiring a doctor to use their definition of gestational age and disregard the true age of the fetus when it can be more accurately determined.  A provider cannot list the risks of the procedure based off of fact-based science.  No, the state tells the provider specifically what to tell the patient, because some representative read a couple of articles, and surely that gives them more knowledge than the person who spent years and years of schooling and continuing education on the matter.

- The provider must tell the patient in person that “medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, child birth and neonatal care,” the father of the child is liable to assist in child support, and there are public and private agencies to help the woman if she chooses to not have an abortion.  Because discussing what the state might do for you is the responsibility of a doctor.  Oh, and these state “benefits” aren’t exactly “available.”  More on that later.

- The state requires the provider must offer to describe the state-mandated ultrasound in detail to the patient, and mandates what physical features the provider is required to describe to the patient on the ultrasound.

- The patient must have a 24-hour “reflection period” between seeing the abortion provider and going back for the abortion, because the state is assuming you horrible ladies are incapable of considering the ramifications of this procedure and need to be put in a time out. Since many abortion providers were driven out of the state on prior laws, this 24 hour period is also designed to create another hurdle for disadvantaged women in rural areas, since they’ll have to travel quite a distance for the procedure, pay for a hotel room they can’t afford, and take time off from a job they can’t lose. 

- Non-pregnant taxpayer/voter? You think you’re off the hook? No, the state is using your taxpayer dollars to maintain a website that “describes the unborn child” to the woman.  This description must show and describe fetal development, and must include all of the same items the doctor is required to tell the patient.  Despite the fact that this information is already one easy Google click or library visit away, we are putting a few people on our cash-strapped government payroll to do this.  Oh, and the web site must be “objective, nonjudgmental and designed to convey only accurate information about the unborn child at the various gestational ages.” Remember,  the doctor has to use a state-defined version of “gestational age,” not the objective, non-judgmental accurate version. Because you’re using two different definitions, doesn’t that cause a misrepresentation of fetal development by 2-3 weeks? I see what you did there, Arizona. Clever, clever…

If the provider doesn’t do everything as strictly defined in this law, he or she can lose their license and be sued by a host of people.  So let me get this straight, Arizona Republican Legislature:

- Your party’s platform is supposed to be for tort and malpractice reform, but you just wrote a law making it easier for an OB-GYN to get sued.  This causes malpractice insurance to go up in our state, and will drive specialized care out of Arizona – a state that is already desperate for specialized care in rural areas.  Good job.

- Another aspect of your party’s “limited government” platform is to not create redundant laws.  While many of the provisions of this law are being touted as protecting a women’s health, every aspect that protects the woman’s health in this bill (the quality of the clinic, informing the patient of medical risks, etc.) is already covered in other laws as well as in medical licensing standards.

- You strip taxpayer dollars from services that can actually help Arizonans (again, more on that later), but you just mandated that the state pay for some stupid web site that provides information that can be found elsewhere without costing taxpayers a dime.

- Your party claims they don’t want to legislate people’s lives, and well…here we are, yet again.

Way to be a conservative.  So let’s talk about the word “Pro-Life.”  What does that word mean to you? Because I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

As I mentioned above, the new law wants healthcare providers to talk about the services the state “may offer” to moms.  The key word in there is “may,” because here’s the colossal fail that that resides in “may”:

- In 2011 Arizona cut services for children with developmental delays and froze health insurance for the poor.  Because of these cuts, 85,000 children were on the waiting list for KidsCare.

- Thanks to our poorly funded health programs, Arizona is currently ranked 47th out of 51 in the country for children who are insured, 44th for parents who are insured, 40th for children who have had a preventative medical visit in the past year, 45th for children with preventative dental visits, dead last for children with special health care needs in need of referrals, and 40th for children who are at a moderate to high risk for developmental or behavioral delays.

So we’ve established that Arizona pretty much sucks at providing adequate health care to these babies they want to save.  How else does Arizona protect its children? Haha, good one.  Yet again, needed services were cut from the state’s budget because we’re so goshdurn conservative, and yet again, CPS remained grossly underfunded.  We expect master’s level counselors with a mountain of student loan debt to accept a nearly unlivable wage, be responsible for more kids in one month than most people will know in their lifetime, fight the red tape war every day, only to get persecuted by state politicians when a kid dies.  Sign me up! Representatives actually have the gall to go on our local news and state that they “don’t want to throw money at the problem.” You say throwing money at a problem;  I call it FUNDING A NEEDED SERVICE. To-may-to, To-mah-to, I guess? A recent report showed the fruits of our non-labor, non-money-throwing actions and the results were damning:

- CPS currently has a backlog of 8400 cases, with cases dating back to last summer that still have not been investigated

- We have 11,535 children in state custody

- There is a 20% increase in neglect reports

- There is a 10% increase in the number of kids entering foster care, yet the number of foster homes continue to decline, meaning there are children waiting longer in group homes and crisis shelters.

We’ve got kids suffering and dying thanks to the state’s lack of funding and care, yet these same people are claiming they want to save a few fetuses…for what, exactly?  So you can let these fetuses become babies and give them the chance to experience the joys of behavioral and developmental problems, or for you to kill them slowly through your profound apathy and class warfare against the poor? So you can stand behind their mother in the supermarket line – the mother you coerced into having a child – and judge her when she uses her food stamp card? So you can then cut food stamps funding to put your shaming on paper? So you can feel better about yourself in your Paradise Valley McMansion, because you showed that woman – God blessed you and damned her.  How dare she expect the state to help her after the state promised there’d be services available? How dare she take a penny from you to try and feed that child or take her baby to the doctor for a checkup.  Doesn’t she know you have valets to tip?

She should have been abstinent.  Oh that’s right, we’ve learned that doesn’t really work.  She should have just practiced safe sex.  That’s what someone said in sex ed.  Oh, that’s right, you made Arizona’s abstinence-focused sex ed optional.  You also have laws pending preventing her right to receive birth control.  She should put her child up for adoption…and let those kids in foster care, group homes and crisis shelters wait even longer for a place to go?  And for you to slut-shame her when you find out she’s *gasp* an unmarried woman?  Or *confused gasp* is married and doesn’t want to keep her child?  Well, she could just go and get an abor…

Oh.  Oops…