Abortion questionnaire bill signed into law

Abortion questionnaire bill signed into law

(Deposit Photos/Merion_Merion)
(Deposit Photos/Merion_Merion)

Women who want to terminate a pregnancy are going to be asked some questions first.

But they don’t have to answer.

Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday signed a measure into law that spells out a new list of things that doctors and clinics are required to ask. The law takes effect 91 days after the Legislature ends its session.

Existing law contains an open-ended question that health care providers are supposed to ask about the reason for the abortion. That includes whether the procedure is elective or due to some issue of maternal or fetal health.

But Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, said that doesn’t provide sufficient information, at least not in a form where it can be classified into categories and published in annual reports by the Department of Health Services.

As originally crafted by Cathi Herrod of the anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy, the list of choices women would have been given when asked about why they want an abortion would have included economic reasons, a decision not to have children at this time, the pregnancy was due to rape or incest, or whether there were “relationship issues, including abuse, separation, divorce and extramarital affairs.”

That gained Senate approval over the objections of Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix.

“If I get an abortion, it is no one’s business,” she told colleagues.

“It is not this Legislature’s business, it is not the governor’s business or anyone in state government,” Hobbs continued. “The Catholic Church does not need to know why I am getting an abortion, and not the Center for Arizona Policy.”

But when several House Republicans balked at the list, Herrod was forced to pare down the list.

As signed by Ducey, women will be asked whether the abortion is elective or whether it was due to one of a list of medical conditions.

Other questions include whether the procedure is being sought because the pregnancy is due to rape or incest. And women also will be questioned whether they are being coerced into the abortion, whether they are the victim of sex trafficking and whether they are the victim of domestic violence.

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, defended in particular the questions on sex trafficking and coercion. He said it gives women, who will be taken into a separate room, a chance to seek help.

Nothing in the measure requires a woman to answer in order to have her pregnancy terminated.

House approval came after Republicans rejected a bid by Rep. Daniel Hernandez, D-Tucson, to also ask women if they were seeking an abortion because they lacked access to affordable family planning. Farnsworth said that question is irrelevant.

Ducey, in a prepared statement, said the bill simply updates existing reporting requirements by requesting information, which women need not provide, on whether a crime has occurred and provides information on services to women on how to report that crime. The governor did not address the other questions women will be asked which are not related to crimes.