by Mark Richardson
Women’s health advocates say they’ve defeated two bills in the Arizona Legislature aimed at attacking reproductive rights.
The measures would have used $2.5 million of the state budget to fund so-called “crisis pregnancy centers.” Planned Parenthood and other groups have voiced concerns about the centers advertising that they provide “unbiased” information and options for women facing unwanted pregnancies.
Tayler Tucker, media relations manager for Planned Parenthood of Arizona, said untrained staff at the centers pressure women to make decisions based on incomplete information.
“To give money away to biased organizations that often don’t have medical experts on staff; to mislead people into believing that they do not have the option, or the safe and legal right, to access abortion care is, frankly, unconscionable and cruel,” she said.
The legislation sought to create a “family-planning pilot project,” with the purposes of “encouraging healthy childbirth and supporting childbirth as an alternative to abortion.” Tucker noted that most crisis pregnancy centers are operated by anti-abortion or conservative religious groups. She said the centers are set up as nonprofit charities that often advertise online as a source of free reproductive health advice, and added that providing them state funding would have bolstered their efforts to deny women the right to make an informed decision.
“The majority of the people that are on these boards are not medical experts,” she said. “These sort of 501(c)(3)s pop up everywhere and, because they are unlicensed and unaccredited and unregulated, they are able to continue to operate.”
Tucker said Planned Parenthood and other women’s groups worked to mobilize constituents in legislative districts across the state to convince lawmakers to vote against the plan.
“I think it is a victory for some of the most vulnerable people here that end up going on Google and end up being redirected to these centers that do not give them the information they need to make an informed decision,” she said.
Tucker added that this issue is one of several that women’s groups are facing in Arizona and other states in the face of a growing movement to challenge access to safe, legal abortion.
The texts of House Bill 2759 and Senate Bill 1574 are online at legiscan.com. Public News Service – AZ
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