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Senate seeks limits on reproductive rights

The Senate passed bills on March 3 that would ban the use of taxpayer money for abortion insurance, require the disclosure of the health risks associated with donating a human egg, and penalize the destruction of human embryos in non-therapeutic research.

The bills – S1305, S1306 and S1307 – had barely enough support to pass. Sen. Linda Gray, a Glendale Republican, sponsored all three.

Democrats resisted all three measures. They said the bills treat women as if they were incapable of making rational decisions and bring embryos a step closer to having the same legal status as human beings.

Sen. Carolyn Allen, a lawmaker from Scottsdale, was the only Republican who voted against all three bills. She said lawmakers should be working on the budget instead of measures that restrict the reproductive rights of women.

“The calendar today and some that are going to come appears to me to be almost anti-female,” she said.

S1305 prohibits the use of taxpayer money for a health insurance policy that provides abortion-related benefits, unless the procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life or prevent irreparable injury to her.

Gray said the bill doesn’t prohibit a woman from obtaining an abortion. “It simply guarantees that the taxpayer will not be paying for it,” she said.

Senate Minority Whip Linda Lopez, a Tucson Democrat, voted against the bill because she said it infringes on the rights of women.

“Why is it that this body thinks it knows best how women should be insured? Why is it that in this body, women are treated as if they are incapable of making rationale decisions about their own medical care?” asked Senate Minority Whip Linda Lopez, a Tucson Democrat who voted against the bill.

S1307, meanwhile, prohibits the sale or purchase of human embryos. The provision, however, doesn’t apply to a payment to a physician for services to treat infertility.

Additionally, the bill prohibits any activity for non-therapeutic research that results in destruction of human embryos and establishes a Class 6 felony for violation of this provision.

Just before the vote, Lopez said the measure may “start a slippery slope where embryos have so many rights and protections that medical care for IVF (in vitro fertilization) and related family building treatments are impaired.”

Sen. Ron Gould, a Lake Havasu Republican, said embryos are human beings, “not tissues.”

“They deserve all the respect and rights that human beings deserve,” he said.

S1306 requires physicians to warn women about the risks of donating human eggs and obtain informed consent from patients before the extraction procedure.

It also creates penalties for those who purchase or offer to purchase a human egg for purposes other than treatment of infertility.


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