PHOENIX — A Tucson Republican legislator who has been a vocal opponent of legal abortion is drawing attention again with her suggestion that women who want to terminate a pregnancy should first be required to watch the procedure on someone else.
The comment by Rep. Terri Proud came in response to an e-mail earlier this month from Adena Lees. She was urging Proud to oppose a measure that would ban all abortions after 20 weeks.
That measure was tacked on to HB 2036 in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is set for Senate debate today (eds: thursday) and eventually would have to go to the House which has never considered the language.
Lees told Proud she was concerned with the lack of any exceptions for women who find they are carrying a child with “fetal anomalies.’’
“This bill is an unbelievably cruel attempt to block access to care for women and families facing tragic situations,’’ the e-mail reads.
Proud responded two days later saying that, if it were up to her, the measure would go further.
“Personally I’d like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a ‘surgical procedure,’ ‘’ she wrote. “If it’s not a life it shouldn’t matter, if it doesn’t harm a woman then she shouldn’t care.’’
Proud took a strong stance earlier this month in favor of legislation to prohibit any state-administered federal grants from being given to any organization that also performs abortion.
Federal and state law already precludes public funds from being used to terminate a pregnancy. Proud said she wanted to be sure that organizations like Planned Parenthood were not using their federal money for family planning to free up other dollars to perform abortions, something she said would amount to indirect public funding.
“Until the dead child can tell me that it didn’t want to live, I have no intention of clearing the conscience of the living,’’ she said during floor debate.
Proud repeated that theme in her e-mail to Lees, writing, “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.’’
In a response to Proud a day later, Lees said she was “speechless’’ and called the lawmaker’s e-mail to a constituent “unacceptable, unprofessional and unethical.’’
“To live in this state and have a representative who believes and behaves the way you do is embarrassing and frightening,’’ Lees wrote.
Proud declined repeated requests by Capitol Media Services for an interview. Instead, she issued a formal statement saying her response to Lees “emphasized my concerns with how abortion providers have not been honest with women about the realities of abortion, and the short and long-term risks of this dangerous surgical procedure.’’
And she noted that the Legislature already has required women who want to terminate a pregnancy to have an ultrasound and be given “the opportunity to view the picture of her child before an abortion.’’
Proud was more blunt in a Facebook post.
“I always try to answer every e-mail that I receive -- friendly or hostile,’’ she wrote.
“I don’t apologize for e-mails I state are my personal opinion,’’ Proud continued. “I may not be cut out to be a politician, but I am cut out to be a Representative.’’
“Representative of who and representative of what?’’ Lees told Capitol Media Services after reading Proud’s Facebook post.
Lees, a licensed clinical social worker in private practice, said her political activism is limited to signing up for alerts from various organizations and, when appropriate, sending an e-mail out to a state or federal official. She said that usually generates a “benign’’ response.
“I know it’s a form letter,’’ Lees said of what she gets back.
“But it’s respectful,’’ she continued. “This was so not respectful, so angry, so violating to me personally.’’
In her Facebook post, Proud suggested she might have been set up.
“It’s sad that the Left like to play ‘I gotcha’ games through e-mails,’’ she wrote. Proud said that’s why some legislators do not respond to such messages “for fear it’s just another ‘gotcha’ moment.’ ‘’
Lees acknowledged she did not vote for Proud. But she said she is not an activist, with her political involvement limited to her e-mails.
“I don’t protest, I don’t go outside and do stuff like that,’’ Lees said. “But I do it from my home.’’
Lees said, though, she does have strong feelings about abortion rights.
“I am very much for women being in charge of their own bodies, not having other people tell them what to do with their bodies,’’ she said.
Lees said she understands there are many sides to the issue. But she said that she had to speak out -- even by e-mail -- when legislation fails to consider that there are reasons like rape, incest or fetal defects that may result in a woman choosing not to carry a child to term.
“That’s what puts me over the edge,’’ she said.