Mar 19, 2024 - Politics

Arizona lawmaker announces she'll seek an abortion in Senate speech

Illustration of the Arizona State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Democratic Arizona Sen. Eva Burch plans to get an abortion after learning her pregnancy "is not progressing and is not viable," she told her colleagues in the state Senate Monday.

Why it matters: As Arizona voters may in November face a ballot initiative to expand abortion access, Burch — a nurse practitioner — said she wanted to illustrate how health care policies impact families.

Between the lines: Burch told her colleagues that even though her fetus has no chance of survival, she was forced to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, wait at least 24 hours before the abortion, and listen to her provider explain adoption and foster care options, the Arizona Mirror reported.

  • Those policies are mandated by state law.
  • She called them "a cruel and uninformed attempt by outside forces to shame and coerce and frighten me into making a different decision other than the one I knew was right for me."

State of play: Abortions in Arizona are allowed only up to 15 weeks of pregnancy following the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade in 2022.

  • Democrats and abortion rights advocates are pushing a ballot measure to permit abortions up to the point of fetal viability, around 24 weeks of pregnancy, which had been Arizona law prior to the decision.
  • The initiative will appear on the November ballot if organizers collect 383,923 valid signatures by July 3.

What they're saying: While Burch said on the floor she doesn't think "people should have to justify their abortions," she said she's choosing to discuss it "because I want us to be able to have meaningful conversations about the reality of how the work we do in this body impacts people in the real world."

  • Burch told CNN that her story and others like it "humanizes" the abortion debate.

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