Melanie Braunbeck

In 1967 Ronald Reagan signed a game-changing bill into law legalizing abortion in California. Today, some Christian and Jewish religious leaders and organizations are increasingly speaking out in support of a woman’s right to choose. Notably, a recent poll found that 70 percent of Americans do not support further restrictions on abortion access.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 1 in 3 women in America will have an abortion by the time they enter menopause. This common medical procedure is extremely safe, having even fewer complications than a colonoscopy. Extremist groups such as the Center for Arizona Policy have partnered with state representatives to pass targeted regulations in the name of “women’s health” that serve only to make abortion more and more difficult to obtain. The reality is that in the 1950s and 1960s, tens of thousands of woman died annually from “back-alley” abortions. Their stories spurred many religious and community leaders (including Southern Baptists) to push for liberalized abortion laws. Yet the Arizona Legislature continues in its backwards charge to make abortion so difficult to access that, left unchecked, it will be, for all intents and purposes, illegal in the state.

Already, 73 percent of Arizona counties have no abortion provider. In June, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Arizona’s harsh medication abortion restriction. In April, Arizona passed a law allowing surprise inspections of abortion facilities which the Ninth Circuit had previously ruled was a violation of patient privacy (I don’t see any laws allowing surprise inspections of gastroenterologist’s colonoscopy facilities). In 2012, Arizona passed a ban on abortions after 20 weeks that was subsequently overturned in the courts. Abortion was prohibited as a covered medical expense for any insurance plan offered on the new state exchange. Arizona has also passed laws requiring a 24-hour waiting period, “counseling,” an ultrasound, and parental consent. The people who stand to suffer the most from these restrictions are poor minorities and women in rural areas and their families: 61 percent of abortions are from women who already have one or more children and many of them cannot afford another child.

In the Nov. 4 election, it is critical that we make our voices heard in support of these women. Both Wendy Rogers and Jill Norgaard have publicly stated that they believe that life begins at conception. Both support complete criminalization of abortion in all cases with no exceptions. Jeff Dial has a record of voting for every targeted abortion regulation proposed since 2011. Doug Ducey supports the criminalization of abortion in all cases except for rape, incest, and to save the life of the woman.

In contrast, candidates Kyrsten Sinema (Congressional District 9), Mitzi Epstein (State House LD18), Janie Hydrick (State Senate LD18), and Fred DuVal (governor) all support women’s reproductive freedoms. Please join me in supporting these candidates and all Arizona women with your vote in this election.

• Ahwatukee resident Melanie Braunbeck is a dancer and engineer.

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