Arizona is officially the worst state in the union now, right?

I know it’s a tough competition, but now they’re evaluating a bill that would allow doctors to keep crucial information from pregnant women, if giving them that information might lead to abortion. The bill purports to protect doctors from “wrongful birth” suits, but the consequences could be much broader — it removes civil penalties for doctors who intentionally withhold health information from pregnant women. So if a woman gets prenatal testing and the fetus has severe abnormalities incompatible with life? It’s a-ok to just not tell her — just let her go on decorating that nursery! If a woman is pregnant and the doctor realizes that she’s going to have a baby with a disability or a birth defect? Just don’t mention anything, because who needs time to prepare? If there are potential health complications because of a fetal abnormality, or another problem with the pregnancy? Meh. Don’t tell the little lady, because she might make a decision you don’t like.

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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43 Responses to Arizona is officially the worst state in the union now, right?

  1. Okay, so we have some bills going to FORCE procedures and information on women that they don’t want AND bills to withhold information that would go towards making an informed health decision. All of this is promoted as informed consent and improving health care, of which it is the opposite.
    Got it.
    I feel sick for the women this affects.
    I feel genuinely sorry for the nurses and doctors that have to enforce this crap and try to justify it as good medicine.

    Can these legislators just own that they have a specific religious agenda and stop pretending they care about health care?

  2. J says:

    So,

    Right to be informed = Unecessary invasive vaginal ultrasound
    Right to be informed =\= Knowing of potentially life altering or fatal abnormalities.

    Is that right?

  3. Tori says:

    PS — Legislators have also killed an anti-bullying bill because it might advance the “gay agenda.”

  4. Kristen J. says:

    And people wonder why I’m not buying the “things are getting better” shtick. No, things aren’t getting better. Patience is doing me no good. I want something to DO other than scream at the stars about how unfair things are.

  5. EG says:

    I feel genuinely sorry for the nurses and doctors that have to enforce this crap and try to justify it as good medicine.

    I’m starting to wonder why some of them don’t start invoking those conscience clauses we hear so much about.

  6. EG says:

    On reflection, I have to say that every single time Arizona’s name comes up in the news lately, by which I mean “over the past two years,” I cannot help but wonder if they’ve completely misinterpreted Phil Ochs’s civil-rights-era song “Here’s to the State of Mississippi” and are gunning to win the title rights to some kind of modern-day sequel.

  7. Oh my god. Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod. I literally felt my heart rate increase with every passing word of this post. I keep hoping that I’ll wake up from this onslaught of disasters against women. I can barely believe this it’s so deeply disturbing.

  8. librarygoose says:

    All this stuff lately…I can picture myself if this shit doesn’t stop. I will sew a raft from my shattered dreams and make a stubby sail out of my remaining rights and just cast off into the sunset with Gandalf, Frodo, and the remaining Elves. I’ll sail away into and leave this land for men. Or I would, if I wasn’t terrified of the ocean.

  9. Anna says:

    You can’t tell me that it’s a coincidence that this flurry of anti-choice bills coincided exactly with Planned Parenthood Arizona’s largest annual fundraiser. I can only imagine how busy the people at PPAZ are right now.

    These bills are embarrassing. Do we really have to pick on various states for being “the worst” though?

  10. Wait, won’t withholding this sort of information also make it impossible for pro-life parents to attempt the sort of attempted life-saving prenatal surgery the Santorums opted for? Or any sort of prenatal care that might mitigate congenital defects that, untreated, would be a death sentence for the fetuses they claim to care about?

  11. Anon21 says:

    Mike Crichton:

    Wait, won’t withholding this sort of information also make it impossible for pro-life parents to attempt the sort of attempted life-saving prenatal surgery the Santorums opted for? Or any sort of prenatal care that might mitigate congenital defects that, untreated, would be a death sentence for the fetuses they claim to care about?

    Oh, no problem. If you see an abnormality that might imperil the precious fetus’s life, you can of course chloroform the patient and immediately perform whatever fetus-saving procedure deemed necessary. Informed consent is out, hadn’t you heard?

  12. Anthony Zarat says:

    Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

    Section 1. Title 12, chapter 6, article 12, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 12-718, to read:

    START_STATUTE12-718. Civil liability; wrongful birth, life or conception claims; application

    A. A person is not liable for damages in any civil action for wrongful birth based on a claim that, but for an act or omission of the defendant, a child or children would not or should not have been born.

    B. A person is not liable for damages in any civil action for wrongful life based on a claim that, but for an act or omission of the defendant, the person bringing the action would not or should not have been born.

    C. This section applies to any claim regardless of whether the child is born healthy or with a birth defect or other adverse medical condition.

    D. This section does not apply to any civil action for damages for an intentional or grossly negligent act or omission, including an act or omission that violates a criminal law.

  13. Martin says:

    Can we change that to: Arizona is the Worst-Governed state? Arizona is a beautiful place with some truly awesome people residing there. We just have horrible government.

  14. karak says:

    I don’t think we need to wring out hands over a state being given shit for having shitty policies. They’ll be okay. It’s not like the other states are going to bully them at government school or something.

    And this kind of legislation proves, without a doubt, that the anti-choice movement is rooted in misogyny, in the belief that women are stupid holes designed for men to completely control and dominate.

    You can’t be anti-choice without the belief women are fucking stupid. That’s the core of it.

  15. Kristen J. says:

    You can’t be anti-choice without the belief women are fucking stupid.

    …women are fucking stupid, immoral, sluts.

    Sins of Eve and all.

  16. WHEOhio says:

    Just when you think it can’t get any worse…

    Here in Ohio, our Pro-Choice Lobby Day is next Wednesday, to combat the absurd Heartbeat Bill and other such nonsense. (While common sense bills about preventative care languish in committee, ignored). I’m very surprised that this “Lie To The Wommenz For Their Own Good!” bill hasn’t been introduced here.

    The only remotely positive aspect of this shit is people in my life no longer doubt my claims that GOP and anti-choicers are also after birth control, maternity care, and anything at all that may benefit women’s health.

    This isn’t hyperbole – this is the reality.

  17. Adrienne says:

    There’s another AZ bill, HB 2625, that would allow employers to require that female employees submit proof they’re taking birth control for non-contraceptive reasons if they want it to be covered by insurance.

    I live in Arizona and I never thought I would feel so unwelcome in my own city.

  18. im says:

    You can be anti-choice with the belief that woman are completely fine. Bizzarely, however, nobody fing ever DOES that.

    (all it takes is believing that fetus is human life. Have you ever noticed that most misogynist anti-abortionists never seem to notice when we say that it is not a human life, and then they say we LIKE murder?)

  19. Kristen J. says:

    all it takes is believing that fetus is human life

    Nope. No one asks a dude to share his organs with another human being. Even people don’t get to borrow my uterus for 9 months.

  20. karak says:

    You can be anti-choice with the belief that woman are completely fine.

    Lies. Unless you believe in mandatory organ, skin, blood, bone, and tissue donation, during life and after death, regardless of the health concerns to the donor. Then, maybe.

    In addition to the fact that stating a person who has never been pregnant nor can ever physically be pregnant understands pregnancy and life better than an actual pregnant person… well, you kind of have to believe the pregnant person in question is kind of stupid as fuck.

    So, basically, lies.

  21. roo says:

    Why do they even perform the tests then? Why not just admit that the diagnostic information those tests could reveal is never going to be processed or acted upon, so… just don’t do the tests?

    Probably because that would tip the hand that this is not only against women’s rights to choose and to make informed decisions about their medical care, but it’s against good medical practice, period.

    f they didn’t do the tests, women would know the information they weren’t getting, and they could (maybe, if they could afford to) go elsewhere to get the care they need.

    Fuckers.

  22. Scott Cunningham says:

    Nope. No one asks a dude to share his organs with another human being. Even people don’t get to borrow my uterus for 9 months.

    It’s true. I’m male, there’s a severe local shortage of blood donors, and nobody ever proposes writing a law compelling me to donate blood. Not even to save babies. Nothing.

    It’s a question of making decisions about your own body and future. Anti-choice people assume women can’t handle it. Been there when I was an anti-choice conservative Christian teenage kid, know it first hand. “Pro-life” is ugly sexism and pretty lies.

  23. Cimmer says:

    Can we change that to: Arizona is the Worst-Governed state? Arizona is a beautiful place with some truly awesome people residing there. We just have horrible government.

    Exactly! We need more great organizing for a better Arizona. It breaks my heart the laws that come out of the legislature, but I also know that many are working to challenge these legislators by voting them out of office and other strategies.

    xo,
    an AZ native

  24. Azalea says:

    I guess now is a bad time to bring up the bill allowing employers to fire employees who use birth control for …..preventing pregnany/birth. AZ is on some serious bullshit these days and I hope these new bills be the fire under asses that gets the misogynists kicked out of office next election .

  25. Annie D says:

    In addition to the fact that stating a person who has never been pregnant nor can ever physically be pregnant understands pregnancy and life better than an actual pregnant person… well, you kind of have to believe the pregnant person in question is kind of stupid as fuck.

    I think that there’s a difference between believing that a fetus has some degree of life which should be respected and forcing other people to accept your views. I will agitate for the right for women to make that choice, but I am really conflicted about the humanity of a fetus. This is not something I would ever judge another for, but I believe it would sit uneasily on my conscience. Yay for the Catholic Church’s methods of indoctrination!

    So I’m also going to agitate for better advertising of contraception, particularly how each method merely reduces the risk of pregnancy but does not eliminate it. It’s also cheaper and less invasive as a method of birth control.

  26. rain says:

    I think that there’s a difference between believing that a fetus has some degree of life which should be respected and forcing other people to accept your views. I will agitate for the right for women to make that choice, but I am really conflicted about the humanity of a fetus. This is not something I would ever judge another for, but I believe it would sit uneasily on my conscience.

    You were responding to karak @16, who was responding to im’s:

    You can be anti-choice with the belief that woman are completely fine.

    Anti-choice does not mean “I would not choose abortion because I am conflicted about the humanity of a fetus”. Whether you would choose abortion for yourself is neither interesting nor relevant to this discussion. Whether intentional or not, what you’re doing here is trying to shift the conversation to a right-wing framing, redefining anti-choice from whether you’d interfere with other women’s choices to whether you’d personally have an abortion. “Oh, I could never do it myself!” Who cares?

    And what do you mean when you say that the degree of life you think a fetus has “should be respected”? Respected how? Because that sort of a comment doesn’t really jibe with someone who thinks that abortion is a woman’s decision. It’s the sort of a comment one sees from people who believe that, at some point or at any point, a fetus’s rights supercede a woman’s. How can that so-called life be “respected” without encroaching on the rights of women?

  27. Rebecca M. says:

    I think that there’s a difference between believing that a fetus has some degree of life which should be respected and forcing other people to accept your views. I will agitate for the right for women to make that choice, but I am really conflicted about the humanity of a fetus. This is not something I would ever judge another for, but I believe it would sit uneasily on my conscience. Yay for the Catholic Church’s methods of indoctrination!

    Hmm, I believe a fetus has some degree of life, but I also believe that we live in a society where people have the right to put their own preferences over other people’s, even when it’s a case of life or death.

    For example, one could make the Peter Singer-esque argument that the $300 or so a month for my ADHD meds could instead be donated to Doctors without Borders, who could use that money to save a dozen lives of non-fetus human beings. Yet I can still make this medical choice basically for nothing but my own convenience and happiness, and without protesters screaming at me on my way to the pharmacy.

  28. jillian says:

    is this before or after the woman gets permission from her employer?

  29. Anna says:

    Can we change that to: Arizona is the Worst-Governed state? Arizona is a beautiful place with some truly awesome people residing there. We just have horrible government.

    To me this seems like a better way to express this thought than “Arizona is the worst state in the union.” Setting up some kind of system where there are “crappy” states and “awesome” states doesn’t seem too helpful. I wonder if it allows people in “awesome” states to be complacent about the problems in their own backyards, while alienating people in the “crappy” states. People in “crappy” states might be complacent about their problems, too, thinking that their state is just “crappy” and nothing can be done about it. Or they might think the best move on their part is to flee to an “awesome” state, further depleting their state of people who can actually be a positive force for change.

    If you’re wondering why Arizona has seemed to come up in the news a lot over the past few years, it probably has a lot to do with Obama purloining our governor, Janet Napolitano, in 2009, leaving us with Jan Brewer. Then we swiftly got SB1070, the Abortion Omnibus Bill, and a whole crapload of other crap that Napolitano used to veto regularly. The current spate of anti-choice bills seems to mirror a nationwide trend of Republican opposition to abortion, birth control, and just basic health care. I am hoping that the next nationwide trend is that these misogynists will be voted out of office, and that that trend gets mirrored here, too.

    So yeah, we have some shitty policies and some even worse policies being considered. We also have some amazing activists working against this legislation. SB1070 galvanized activist groups like No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes and Border Action Network; the Abortion Omnibus Bill saw the birth of a totally grassroots abortion fund called the Abortion Access Network of Arizona; and many activists are reaching out to Planned Parenthood Arizona to find out what they can do. I’d rather have them here, fighting the good fight, than fleeing to some “awesome” state where they can judge other states for being “the worst.”

  30. Liz says:

    Arizona is definitely proof that 2012 is the end. In my opinion.

  31. Adaquinn says:

    It is my sad duty to report that Kansas is jumping on this particularly disgusting bandwagon and has decided to take it a leap further.

    “Another “wrongful birth” bill under consideration in Kansas, though, takes the things even farther: In order to prevent women from choosing to end a pregnancy if the fetus has life-threatening medical issues, the Kansas bill allows doctors to lie outright if they discover during routine screenings that a pregnant patient has a medical condition that could affect her or her unborn child”

    So now they can not only NOT tell you, but if you press, they can LIE to you! Because women are poor stupid little creatures that don’t need to know about things that can potentially devastate their lives.

  32. EG says:

    Wow. So not only can they lie to a woman about fetal abnormalities, but they can lie to her about a condition she has that could affect her. In other words, they can prioritize her life and health below their desire for her not to have an abortion.

    They really do hate women. They’re not even trying to hide it any longer.

  33. Natalie says:

    With that bill in kansas I wonder if mds are going to be required to lie, or if it is just if they do lie they won’t get in trouble. Personally I have a lot of faith in mds and I do not think they would lie outright to a patient unless they were worried about losing their license. Also there is the hippocratic oath

  34. Adaquinn says:

    They just won’t get into trouble if they lie. They aren’t required too.
    I have faith in my OBGYN. I’m just offended that politicians feel the need to protect those who aren’t as honorable.

  35. emily says:

    Hello feminist gurus:

    I wanted to draw your attention to this situation in Spain: http://jezebel.com/5894364/terrible-doctor-insists-woman-is-pregnant-when-she-actually-has-a-giant-tumor

    The web address pretty much sums it up (a woman goes to the doctor saying she has abdominal pains, and the doctor tells her she is pregnant and sends her away. But she actually has a 24 pound cancerous tumor). But I’m wondering about how a malpractice suit would play out if this had occurred in a jurisdiction with the new “we can lie to pregnant women” law. Would the law protect this doctor if he had a reasonable belief that she was pregnant and that being diagnosed with cancer while pregnant might effect her decision to exercise her rights?

  36. MTR says:

    So no expectant parent will be able to trust that their medical counsel is accurate UNLESS they’re informed of a fetal abnormality. ‘cuz it’s all about the “right to be informed.”

  37. MTR says:

    Women will have an underground list of doctors who are trustworthy and those who aren’t. Doctors who aren’t will see their practices suffer.

  38. DAS says:

    Im gonna ask the same question I asked about medical supervision of / legal winking at torture: where are the professional organizations? Just because the law says X, Y or Z are ok, doesn’t mean that such actions meet professional standards. Shouldn’t the AMA release a statement right about now saying that, even if the law says you can withhold health information, it’s medically unethical and could result in your license being revoked?

  39. Lolagirl says:

    How appalling and yet utterly unsurprising. Leave it to the GOP to permit and even enable malpractice in the cause of supposedly saving the all-sacred fetuses. Because make no mistake, it is flat out malpractice for a doctor to not inform a woman of fetal abnormalities he or she has been able to detect via ultrasound.

    I’m starting to think that it’s time for a federal law forbidding any legislature, federal or state, from interfering in the doctor/patient relationship via crackpot legislation.

  40. Natalie says:

    According to the AMA:

    The Principles of Medical Ethics of the AMA do not prohibit a physician from performing an abortion in accordance with good medical practice and under circumstances that do not violate the law. (III, IV)

    http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/medical-ethics/code-medical-ethics/opinion201.page

    I realize that this is about lying to a patient and not performing an abortion, but the AMA does state that physicans are required to follow the laws of the land so to speak. So if the law of the land is that its a-okay to perform a trans-vaginal ultrasound on a woman who doesn’t want it, or lie to patient…. I’m not sure whether or not the AMA will stand up against these types of shaming bills.

  41. DAS says:

    I have another question about this bill (for the lawyer types): what happens if a woman is not told of a fetal abnormality (and if she were to have been told, she would have gotten an abortion) but then, instead of suing for wrongful life, she sues for the pain involved in delivering a live baby, child-care costs, etc.? This is hardly a “wrongful life suit” but a malpractice suit (the doctor should have informed the patient), but who gets to decide whether section B of the proposed law applies or section D?

  42. DAS says:

    Natalie, thank you for your response. However, the AMA also says that “withholding information from patients without their knowledge or consent is ethically unacceptable” (http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/medical-ethics/code-medical-ethics/opinion8082.page). That page doesn’t say anything about “but it’s not something we’ll boot out any doctor for, so long as they were operating within the letter of the law”.

    If, Hashem forbid, this horrendous law gets passed, I would hope that any woman adversely affected by the situation this law covers would take it up with the AMA. It’s time for professional organizations to uphold professional standards. If Bill Clinton can have his law license suspended over some semi-shady real estate dealings and a fling with an intern, then the AMA certainly can suspend licenses of physicians who withhold valuable medical information from their patients.

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