Arizona has received national attention over a pending bill that would require women requesting contraceptive coverage under their employer's insurance plan to prove that the contraceptives are for medical purposes if the employer finds it morally objectionable to use them to avoid pregnancy and another that would allow doctors to withhold information about the viability of a seriously deformed fetus if the doctor objects to abortion (same link as above). Neither of these bills have passed both houses.
Behind much of this is a lobbyist group known as the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), which seeks to inject a biblical worldview in the legislative process to "protect the family." CAP has introduced over 100 pieces of legislation (approximately 20 more than in its promotional video below).
Fueled by the Tea Party Republicans, the "pro life" rhetoric has reached such a level that Current TV's commentator Keith Olbermann wondered if state legislators were sitting out in the hot Arizona sun too long and going crazy from it. The latest is an email reportedly written to a constituent by State Rep. Terri Proud (R-Tucson), who, in apparently supporting CAP's latest "pro-life legislation," suggested that women seeking an abortion must first view a live abortion. The bill, according to CAP, would:
- Prohibit abortion after 20 weeks because of the safety risks to the mother and the pain endured by the preborn child.
- Ensure women have an ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to an abortion.
- Establish an informed consent website which details the facts about fetal development, risks of abortion, and services available.
- Require doctors performing surgical abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles of the abortion facility.
- Inform women about perinatal hospice and other support options available in the event their child is diagnosed in utero with a disability.
The Huffington Post reports that Proud wrote,
"Personally I'd like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a "surgical procedure". If it's not a life it shouldn't matter, if it doesn't harm a woman then she shouldn't care, and don't we want more transparency and education in the medical profession anyway? We demand it everywhere else.
Until the dead child can tell me that she/he does not feel any pain – I have no intentions of clearing the conscience of the living – I will be voting YES."
House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (D-Phoenix) thinks that Proud's remark was disgusting. He assured Olbermann that not all legislators are suffering from too much Arizona sun. "Let there be no doubt that the Tea Party agenda, here in Arizona in particular, is full of hypocrisy," he added.
"The problem with the state is that we have been taken over by extremists," Campbell said, "and the party that is supposedly the one promoting small government has taken government overreach to a whole new level here in Arizona. They're invading people's bedrooms, they're invading the relationship between a doctor and a patient, and they really don't see any limit in terms of how big they can make government and how intrusive they can make government for the state, and it's unfortunate. But I really and truly believe that people are going to start pushing back, and just the conversations I've had in the past 24 hours since this email was made public, I think people are really starting to wake up to what is going on here in the state and they're going to look for new direction later this year."