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Here’s why women need our bill

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We talk often about how Arizona is one of the best states in the country to raise a family.

But is it the best state to be pregnant and form a family? As it turns out, our state is home to dozens of centers, clinics, and social services to support women and families facing unplanned pregnancy.

But what happens when those very women and families don’t know about these resources?

When Tina Stephens had an abortion 12 years ago, it was the last thing she wanted.

After finding out she was pregnant, she searched desperately online for resources and support to make it financially possible for her and her husband to bring another baby into their family.

But she couldn’t find what she needed. Today, she suffers from diagnosed PTSD.

Her abortion took a heavy toll on her mental and emotional health and her marriage. This month, she testified on behalf of SB1251, which she says may have kept her from choosing abortion had it passed 12 years ago.

Nancy Barto

Nancy Barto

Our bill (SB1251 and its House mirror bill HB2404) provides $1.5 million in funding over two years to establish the Family Health Pilot Program.

The goal of the program is to reach out to women and families facing an unplanned or challenging pregnancy and connect them with vital resources, including social services, medical information, emotional support, prenatal and parenting classes, and material aid ranging from car seats, cribs, diapers, and formula to GED prep and adoption referrals.

The goal of the program is to promote healthy pregnancy and family formation as an alternative to abortion.

Arizona would not be the first state to try this. A similar program has been running successfully in Texas for several years. They found that over 70% of women considering abortion did so because of financial concerns and lack of support.

Michelle Udall

Michelle Udall

When connected with resources through this outreach program, 49% of the women opted to choose life.

This bill would fund advertising necessary to reach these women and families, personnel (including registered nurses and care advocates), and administration and operations. The funding would be open to any organization that meets the qualifications to run such a program – with preference given to organizations based in Arizona.

“I really truly wish there was something like this bill available for me when I was scared and alone and didn’t know what to do,” said Tina Stephens during her moving testimony on February 2 before the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Information is the link that would have made a very big difference between my husband and I making the decision to abort our baby and not aborting our baby and I believe it truly will make a big difference for people today who are scared, confused, and alone and have no idea how to find resources that are available to them.”

We have a lot of problems to fix this session. There are a lot of bills we’re working on – important bills! But as legislators, we believe our job is first and foremost to protect the most vulnerable in our state. Preborn children and women and families in crisis are incredibly vulnerable.

Let’s not allow lives to be lost and women like Tina to struggle alone when help exists. Let’s save lives and prevent decades of suffering and regret. No woman should have to feel that abortion is her only option. The time to pass this bill is now.

Sen. Nancy Barto of north Phoenix represents Legislative District 15 and serves as chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.  

Rep. Michelle Udall of Mesa represents Legislative District 25 and serves as chair of the House Education Committee.

 

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